2020-07-16

At the current state-of-the-art aerospace technology, how long does it take to fly to a planet 1 light year away?

By yqqlm yqqlm

At the current state-of-the-art aerospace technology, how long does it take to fly to a planet 1 light year away?

At first glance, this question looks like a mathematical operation problem. The calculation method is very simple, that is, the distance of one light year is divided by the current flight speed of the most advanced spacecraft. The time required for a light-year alien planet. However, the problem is not as simple as imagined. To explain this problem, it is really not clear in a sentence or two. There are several key concepts that need to be explained.

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First:Whether a place of one light year There are planets that can fly away

Human cognition of the universe, including the solar system, has gradually expanded and deepened with the continuous improvement of science and technology, especially the continuous progress of astronomical observation technology. From the earliest people’s understanding of &34; the sky-round place &34; to the geocentric theory, heliocentric theory, and then to the establishment of the Milky Way model, and later the progressive upgrade of the concept of galaxy clusters, until the scope of the observable universe, man’s broad and The huge contrast of human insignificance is getting more and more shocking.

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From a human perspective, the solar system may be very large However, even compared with the Milky Way, it is very insignificant. As for the scope of the solar system, there has been no definite conclusion since modern times, and it has been continuously expanded according to the development of science and technology and the improvement of observation methods. From the initially discovered five planets of Jinmu, Shuihuotu, it is extended that Saturn is the boundary of the solar system, and then The discovery of Far Planets extended the boundaries of the solar system planets all the way to Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (later kicked out of Planets of the Solar System team, relegated to dwarf planets) continue to refresh the record of the scope of the solar system.

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Next, the discovery of the Kuiper Belt once made people think This area is the boundary of the solar system, where there are a large number of asteroids and ice crystal material. However, in the study of some long-period comets that entered the solar system, scientists gradually discovered that these comets should originate in a region farther from the sun. Therefore, in the end, the effective gravitational range of the sun of the scientists is regarded as the boundary of the solar system. The outermost part of the solar system is the Alter Nebula, and the distance to the sun is between 5,000 and 100,000 astronomical units, which is 0.08-1.6 Light years. There are no other stars or large planets in this area, only a small number of small rocky asteroids, and the rest are Orte cloud objects composed of a mixture of ice crystals such as water ice, methane, ethane, and carbon monoxide.

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So, strictly speaking, at a distance of 1 from the earth In light years, there are basically no planets where spacecraft can land. The closest star system to Earth is Proxima Star 4.2 light years away. Planets have been found there, but it is not suitable for human habitation. If you simply want to allow spacecraft to arrive, in theory, as long as you carry enough fuel, you can be on the planet. Landed.

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Second:at the speed of light or sub-light speed Time expansion problem

According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, the speed of an object’s motion is In different inertial reference systems, the results of time and space changes are different. If the speed of an object measured at the angle of a relatively stationary observer is U, and the relative speed of motion between the inertial reference frame of the moving object and the inertial reference frame of the observer is V, then there is a corresponding relationship between the two:V /U=1+(1-V^2/C^2)^(1/2), and the ratio of the time elapsed in the two reference systems is:T&39;/T=(1-V^2/C ^2)^(1/2), C in the above two relations represents the speed of light.

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This means that the faster the object moves, From the observer’s perspective, the shorter the time interval, the time in the two frames of reference is independent. This is equivalent to, if we can see a spaceship moving at the speed of light, then the movements of the people inside are stagnant in the eyes of the person, and it feels like the time experienced by the spaceship moving at the speed of light is extended. This is the so-called time expansion effect.

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At the same time, if we consider the spatial scale under special relativity Effect, then for the frame of reference where the speed of light spaceship is located, no matter how far away it is, it will be compressed indefinitely and will arrive instantly. This is the assumption that people are accustomed to traveling at the speed of light. When a person travels a distance at the speed of light and then returns to the earth, many years have passed on the earth, and this person feels like the main reason that he has just experienced a moment.

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So, even if you really fly at the speed of light or sub-light speed , Especially for manned flight, then this expansion effect must be taken into account, that is, the time difference caused by the two inertial reference systems must be fully considered. If the flight destination is very far from the earth, then the astronaut who performs the flight Come back again, everything on the original earth will undergo earth-shaking changes. In addition, when flying at the speed of light or sub-light speed, all information feedback and transmission to and from the earth will have a very serious delay, which also destined that these astronauts will definitely experience an unbelievable &34;solitary&34; travel career.

Third, can the existing technology realize the speed of light or sub-light speed

From the current state of the art, if liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen are used As a fuel, it provides energy for rocket launches by means of chemical energy conversion. The theoretical maximum speed that can be provided is only about 25 kilometers per second. This is still a result of the conversion of the earth’s rotation and revolution speed, but in fact, Affected by the weight of the rocket and the conversion efficiency of the combustion energy, the maximum speed of the rocket launched from the earth can only reach about 15 kilometers per second, which is still a certain distance away from the speed of the third universe that can escape the solar system.

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In fact, when the distance from the sun is far, it is out of the gravity of the solar system The minimum speed will be smaller. For example, the average net speed of Voyager 1 is only 17 kilometers per second, and it is already in the region of 22 billion kilometers from the sun. At this speed, it is not a problem to break away from the gravity of the solar system. The difference between this speed and the speed of light or sub-light speed is too great. Even if the Ort Nebula is flying away from the outer periphery of the solar system, it will take at least 20,000 years.

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From the currently available spacecraft acceleration solutions, except In addition to conventional chemical energy, there are gravitational slingshot effect, plasma acceleration, light radiation, etc., but the gravitational slingshot effect can not be encountered, only by the acceleration of one or two stars, the effect is not very obvious, although it can be to a certain extent The speed limit is greatly improved, but due to the influence of the mass of the star and the upper limit of gravitational effect, it is impossible to achieve the speed of sublight. Although plasma acceleration can theoretically achieve a spacecraft speed of more than 200 kilometers per second, this method is still in the theoretical and experimental stage, even if the acceleration of the spacecraft can only reach one thousandth of the speed of light after success, if it reaches 1 light The area outside the year also needs 1000 years. At present, optical radiation only stays in the theoretical stage, which is limited by the energy density of optical radiation, and can only be applied to the emission and acceleration of miniature detection instruments.

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Of course, controlled nuclear fusion is currently being accelerated by the scientific community A technology that promotes research, once successful, will surely have a revolutionary development in the field of energy applications. At that time, the spacecraft will use controllable nuclear fusion technology as the core. In theory, the speed of the spacecraft can be increased to about 3%of the speed of light. Although there is still a large gap between the speed of light and even the speed of light, at least in the deep space detection at close range, it provides the possibility of extending the human footprint.