NASA discloses sound emitted by black hole; listen up

What is the sound of space? For many people, the guess would be “silence”. We have the perception that, because of the vacuum, sound waves cannot propagate in the vast immensity of the universe. But, according to NASA, the American space agency, which released the sound emitted by a black hole last Sunday, 21, the idea is wrong.

This is because, although the vacuum exists in most of space, not all places are dominated by it. “A cluster of galaxies has so much gas that we were able to capture audio,” the agency explained in a post on social media that it used for disclosure. To sound this way, the audio obtained was amplified and mixed with other data. Listen at the end of the report.

In response to a netizen who asked if any editing was done to give the sound its “sinister” character, NASA explained that nothing was done for that purpose. But, as the audio had to be greatly amplified and some other sounds that integrate it are interpreted from data assigned to a spectrum of light, this is the end result.

The process is called sonification, which consists precisely of converting other types of data – in this case, astronomical ones – into speechless audio. “One of the reasons we created this kind of data sonification is our desire to share this science with more people,” the space agency commented.

In 2003, the first sound waves were detected around the black hole in the Perseus galaxy cluster by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a space telescope. Astronomers found that the pressure waves sent by the black hole caused ripples in the galaxies’ hot gas, which could be translated into a note inaudible to the human ear.

To turn the audio captured at the black hole into the sound of the publicity video, the sound waves were resynthesized and boosted by 58 octaves – meaning they are being heard at a frequency 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion higher than the original.

In addition to this black hole, NASA has also released the sonification of one located at the center of the galaxy M87. It relies on sounds obtained from optical, radio wave and x-ray data captured by various space telescopes, such as Chandra, Hubble and the Atacama Large Millimiter Array (Alma) in Chile.

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