The Sound of the Cosmos; Here’s Your Chance to Listen to the Stars of the Milky Way Galaxy

I’ve never actually asked myself what stars sound like. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty incredible images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope of Our galaxy and the universe, and I’ve seen some incredible images of astrophotographers around the globe, but never did I wonder whether we could “listen in” to stars and what these sounds would be like.

Not until now.


A new project using sonification has converted astronomical images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray space observatory and other telescopes into sound.


This allows users to “hear” the center of the Milky Way, as seen in X-rays, optical and infrared light.


By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeros) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.


In videos with sonified images, the translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, and the sounds represent the position and brightness of the sources.


Light from objects toward the top of the image is heard as higher tones, while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources become individual notes while expanding clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving hum.


The crescendo occurs when we reach the bright region in the lower right of the image.


This is where the 4 million solar-mass supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, known as Sagittarius A * resides and where the clouds of gas and dust are brightest.


Users can listen to data from this region, approximately 400 light-years in diameter, either as “individual sounds” from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope or together as a set in each telescope plays a different instrument, according to a statement posted on the Chandra website.


Each image reveals different phenomena that occur in this region, about 26,000 light-years from Earth.


The Hubble image describes the energetic regions where stars are born, while the Spitzer infrared image shows bright dust clouds containing complex structures.


Chandra X-rays reveal gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and outflows from Sagittarius A*.

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