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Filker Bill Eoper said “Space is dark and space is deep. ” But apparently, it isn’t silent. The movie Alien claimed “in space, no one can hear you scream.”

Now NASA is saying Space may not be as silent as we had previously thought.

Space is mostly quiet. Data collected by telescopes is most often turned into silent charts, plots, and images. A “sonification” project led by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NASA’s Universe of Learning program transforms otherwise inaudible data from some of the world’s most powerful telescopes into sound. This effort makes it possible to experience data from cosmic sources with a different sense: hearing.

The latest installment of this sonification project features a region where stars are forming (Westerlund 2), the debris field left behind by an exploded star (Tycho’s supernova remnant), and the region around arguably the most famous black hole (Messier 87). Each sonification has its own technique to translate the astronomical data into sounds that humans can hear.

Harken Unto the Music of the Spheres

What follows is a recording of the astronomical data received from the Westerlund 2 supernova remnant debris field.

Dr. Carl Sagan insisted on sending Earth music to space on the Voyager probe, including nature sounds, “Johnny B. Goode,” as well as Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. It appears Space is returning the favor.

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, please visit the NASA web page entitled “Jingle, Pluck and Hum: Sounds from Space”. It’s one of the more noteworthy audible science experiences there are.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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