WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Three new audio tracks were released by NASA, translating data from space telescopes into soundtracks.
- These were data sonification of a Chandra Deep Field observation, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, and the Whirlpool Galaxy.
- Data like brightness and distance from the center of the image were translated into tracks that were cheerful and eerie.
The beauty and mystery of our universe isn’t something you can marvel at with just your eyes, you can listen to it too!
Translating data collected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other space telescopes, a team of scientists have created unique and haunting soundtracks. To make these audio clips, they used a process called data sonification and also worked with Andrew Santaguida, a musician of science and art outreach project System Sounds.
The new tracks released on Wednesday let us listen to a Chandra Deep Field observation, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, and the Whirlpool Galaxy.
Chandra Deep Field South gives us “the deepest image ever taken in X-rays.” In the image, black holes and galaxies are represented by different dots and give the poppy 80’s sci-fi feel to the soundtrack that has a wide range of X-ray frequencies.
Combining data from Chandra and the Hubble Space Telescope, the soundtrack for the Cat’s Eye Nebula was produced. This time, a clockwise moving scan that emanates from the center is what produced the pitch. Lights further from the center produce higher pitches and brighter lights are louder.
While the two first tracks were someone cheery, the third data sonification of the Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) came off as eerie. It followed the radar-like scan of the Cat’s Eye Nebula, however, “the radius is mapped to notes of a minor scale.” Various wavelengths including infrared, optical, ultraviolet, and X-ray were all assigned different frequency ranges.
These latest audio releases are all part of an ongoing project that aims to make space telescope data available in new ways.