Understanding Mysterious Sounds From Space

By Ashritha Raghavendra

September 17, 2022

Video Source: NASA

Sound of Black Hole at the Center of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster

🔊 Turn Up the Volume

Can Sound Travel in Space?

Sound cannot travel in space since it's mostly a vacuum. But the gas-covered Perseus galaxy emits pressure waves that are converted into sounds that echo through the galaxy.

Image Source: Unsplash

What Is a Black Hole?

Black holes are a space of intense gravity, often formed by a dying star. They are invisible to the human eye and are identified based on the behaviour of their neighbouring stars.

Image Source: NASA

Extracting Sound

Ripples in the Perseus cluster were observed in X-ray and were translated to inaudible sounds. The pitch of this audio had to be scaled up to 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion times for us to be able to hear it.

Image Source: NASA

In the past, NASA has shared the sonification of various other black holes. This is from the M87 galaxy.  The audio was created using X-ray, optical light, and radio wave data from telescopes. 

Celestial Sounds

Video Source: NASA

Melody From the Milky Way

The sonification of an image of Sagittarius A — the massive black hole in our home galaxy resulted in this audio. The crescendo of the music is when data reaches the black hole — a bright spot on the image.

Video Source: NASA

Lessons From Listening

Sound waves carry important information, like the internal structure of stars and how they vibrate. The sound of the Perseus cluster’s black hole is unique because its sonification uses actual sound waves.

Image Source: Unsplash

Black Hole Captured

The first ever image of a black hole. This is at the centre of the M87 galaxy.

Image Source: NASA