The misconception that there is no sound in space originates because most space is a ~vacuum, providing no way for sound waves to travel. A galaxy cluster has so much gas that we’ve picked up actual sound. Here it’s amplified, and mixed with other data, to hear a black hole! pic.twitter.com/RobcZs7F9e
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) August 21, 2022
“In space, no one can hear you scream.” That may be true, depending on who is listening. Humans can only hear a certain range of sounds. The idea also persists because the space we’ve been able to travel through is a vacuum. Not all of space is a vacuum, though; a portion of it is made up of gas. The Perseus galaxy has a lot of gas in its space, and the black hole at the center of the galaxy moans. These sound waves were detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, but they can’t be heard in their raw form, which is 57 octaves below middle C. So NASA has “translated” the sound, much as they translate colors of far away images that are in parts of the light spectrum we cannot see with human eyes. This is what we call sonification. Read more about the project at NASA.
This sonification of a black hole was released back in May to celebrate NASA’s Black Hole Week, but it appears that no one paid attention until it was posted to Twitter this past weekend. Yeah, you can guess there are already remixes. Speaking of remixes, the sonification of another black hole from the galaxy Messier87 combines data from three different sources to make the black hole sing, which you can see at the NASA link. -Thanks, WTM!
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