NASA Sonification Black Hole Perseus Galaxy
Photo credit: Chandra / Harvard
This NASA sonification of the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster previews what it could sound like. This black hole has been associated with sound since 2003 after astronomers discovered that the pressure waves it sent out caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note. It is a note that humans cannot hear due to it being 57 octaves below middle C.

What you’re hearing is basically the translation of astronomical data into sound and unlike any that have come before it because this sonification revisits the actual sound waves discovered in data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. There is a popular misconception that no sound can exist in space, which originated with the fact that most of space is essentially a vacuum. However, a galaxy cluster has abundant amounts of gas that envelop the galaxies within it, providing a medium for the sound waves to travel. On the other hand, scientists claim black holes are like holograms.

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Another way to put this is that they are being heard 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion times higher than their original frequency. (A quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000.) The radar-like scan around the image allows you to hear waves emitted in different directions. In the visual image of these data, blue and purple both show X-ray data captured by Chandra,” said NASA.