Listen to the sound of a black hole, recorded by NASA


NASA has released an audio recording of a black hole.

Recorded by the agency’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the recording is of pressure waves emitted by the black hole in the Perseus galaxy cluster, causing ripples in the cluster’s hot gas. The new “sonification” – which was released this year as part of NASA’s Black Hole Week – is essentially a translation of astronomical data, raised 57 or 58 octaves above their actual pitch so that they can be heard by humans.

“The popular misconception that there is no sound in space stems from the fact that most of space is essentially a vacuum, providing no means for sound waves to propagate,” said NASA said in a statement. “A galaxy cluster, on the other hand, contains large amounts of gas that shrouds the hundreds or even thousands of galaxies within it, providing a means for sound waves to travel.”

“The sound waves were extracted in radial directions, i.e. outwards from the center. The signals were then resynthesized into the range of human hearing by scaling them towards the top 57 and 58 octaves above their actual pitch.”

“Another way of saying this is that they are heard 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion times higher than their original frequency. Radar-like scanning around the image allows you to hear waves radiating from different directions In the visual image of this data, the blue and purple both show x-ray data captured by Chandra.

Check out the recording and visual image below.

The discovery comes a month after NASA unveiled a recording that revealed Mars has two speeds of sound. Last January, New Scientist revealed that a “mysterious object” was emitting radio waves into space.

In November, NASA shared a musical representation of a nebula in deep space – the Butterfly Nebula – using data sonification, which involves converting data into sound.


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