Outer space can be described in many ways. It is large, mysterious, and home to celestial bodies. Space is also silent, there is not a sound up there.
NASA decided create a depiction of what the universe sounds like by translating a Hubble photo into music. They used sonification to change an image which showed “a galactic treasure chest” in deep space into an audible clip of space sounds.
The photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in August 2019. According to NASA, the photo shows many galaxies. In fact, they said that “each visible speck of a galaxy is home to countless stars”
“An immense collection of maybe thousands of galaxies, all held together by the relentless force of gravity.”
The outcome of the sonification is both breathtaking and frightening.
Explaining the sound clip, NASA said, “Time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 to 1,000 hertz. Objects near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, while those near the top produce higher ones.”
“Most of the visible specks are galaxies housing countless stars. A few individual stars shine brightly in the foreground. Stars and compact galaxies create short, clear tones, while sprawling spiral galaxies emit longer notes that change pitch. The higher density of galaxies near the centre of the image — the heart of this galaxy cluster, known as RXC J0142.9+4438 — results in a swell of mid-range tones halfway through the video,” they added.
Listen to the chilling sonification of the deep space image here:
Image: Screenshot from video