宇宙時空 銀河系將與鄰近星系碰撞 人...

銀河系將與鄰近星系碰撞 人類未來堪憂?

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【新三才編譯首發】地球上一天到晚,來自太空的最大威脅可能是一些未被發現的小行星撞擊事件,但是在更大範圍內觀察宇宙的天體物理學家警告說,另一種碰撞也可能在遙遠的未來影響我們的星球。

由英國達勒姆大學(Durham University)研究人員領導的一個小組表示,另一個與我們銀河系碰撞的星系威脅可能比以前想像的要早得多,並可能使我們整個太陽系向新的方向發展。

達勒姆計算宇宙學研究所博士後研究員Marius Cautun在一篇文章中說:「我們不可能毫髮無損地逃離兩個星系之間的撞擊,這可能會讓我們從銀河系中進入星際空間。」

對我們來說幸運的是,可能對於我們所知道的所有人和所有人來說,銀河系與被稱為大麥哲倫星雲(LMC)的小星系之間的這種碰撞可能會發生在大約20億年內。但是,這仍然比我們鄰近的仙女座星系預估在80億年左右發生碰撞的事件要早得多。

研究小組成員說,我們這個直徑10萬光年的銀河系將吞噬直徑14,000光年的大麥哲倫星雲,不過這頓飯顯然不會很好吃。研究同時也表明,在可預見的未來,我們的銀河系將經歷多次劇烈的碰撞。

「大麥哲倫星雲雖然被我們銀河系所吞噬,但也將對我們銀河系造成嚴重破壞,喚醒在其中心的黑洞,並將我們的銀河系轉變為活躍的銀河核或類星體。」Cautun表示。(那個中央超大質量黑洞,被稱為射手座A*,比太陽質量大約400萬倍。)

「這種現象將產生強大的高能輻射射流,從黑洞外部發出。」Cautun補充說。「雖然合併所激發的引力相互作用可能會把我們推向星系之間的太空,但這種情況發生的可能性很小。恆星之間的距離是如此之大,以至於即使是銀河系的碎片也可能不會擠壓我們的太陽系。」

大麥哲倫星雲是銀河系的一個衛星星系,距我們的螺旋線大約163,000光年。天文學家此前並沒有把這個較小的星系作為一個可能的碰撞候選者,但是最近的觀察結果表明,該星系的暗物質含量是之前認知的兩倍,因此顯著提高了質量估算值。(暗物質是神秘的東西,在整個宇宙中超過「正常」物質的比例6倍。)這導致該星系未來將和我們銀河系產生嚴重碰撞後果。

我們的太陽系在數十億年中基本保持不變,並且很可能在未來很長一段時間內保持這種狀態,但這並沒有阻止天文學家展望未來,試圖預測我們發生的一些重大變化。如果我們的銀河系發生大規模碰撞,它可能會極大地影響我們的太陽系,甚至可能影響地球本身的可居住性。

但這對人類意味著什麼呢?目前其實影響並不太大。因為這個事件預計不會在20億年之內發生,到時如果人類還沒有把地球變成一個不適合居住的荒地,我們肯定已經有足夠長的時間來製定一個退出戰略,如果需要的話,希望如此。

(編譯:王明真)

(責任編輯:姜啟明)

(文章來源:新三才編譯首發)

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