// Written by: Steve Fink
Wednesday 24 August 2022
Have you ever wondered what space looks like? According to Ridley Scott in Alien, “In space no one can hear your scream.” But why is this? Well, because space is an enormous vacuum where there is no chance for sound waves to travel. However, NASA has shared an actual recording from space, specifically the Perseus galaxy cluster, where there is a lot of gas where sound waves can travel. These waves come from a massive black hole in the center of the mass, more than 200 million light-years away.
The sound from this black hole was first presented to us in 2003, when NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory managed to capture its “song”. Astronomers found that the black hole was sending out pressure waves, causing circular waves in the cluster’s gas cloud of several million degrees, which can be ‘translated’ into a musical tone. However, due to the very long time between its oscillations (we are talking about 9.6 million years), the human ear was not able to pick up the sound. Then how do we hear it? Most of the time, the sounds we hear from space are really just data points that have been changed into an audio form. However, the sound of the Perseus black hole is distinctive. This time around, it’s not just “data sonication,” translating astronomical data into sound, but a re-sonication, or “remixing,” of the actual sound wave produced deep in space. curious.
And in fact, NASA had to change the pitch, flat out, about 57 octaves higher to get a frequency our ears could recognize, which resulted in something that sounds just as I imagined it, like some alien and sci-fi movie soundtrack, a mix of Brian Eno or a whale Intergalactic in this case.
Hear it for yourself: