Do you hear what we hear? A supernova!

NASA's 'data sonification' program is turning space phenomena into music
supernova Think you know what the Crab Nebula sounds like? Find out below! (NASA)


Sound waves need a 'medium' to travel through, such as air. And as a vacuum (a.k.a. empty space) outer space doesn't have that. So there is no sound in space.

Or at least any sound that does exist in space couldn't be heard by human ears.

But what if it was? What if we could 'hear' stars? Planets. Comets. Nebula and novas. What would that be like?

A new program from NASA's Chandra's X-ray Observatory called 'data sonification' aims to show us. But instead of trying to get the true sound of space, it is converting space images to music. Observe and be in awe!

Crab-tastic!

What you just heard was the 'music' of the Crab Nebula. This epic cloud of dust and gas powered by a neutron star is the leftovers of a massive supernova. Such a phenomenon gives off a ton of different radiation and energy waves. According to a statement from NASA, each type of radiation is represented by a different type of instrument.

  • X-ray light: Brass instruments (trumpets, other horns)
  • Optical light: String instruments (violins, violas, cellos)
  • Infrared light: Woodwinds (clarinets, oboes)

So while this isn't exactly scientific, the sound isn't random. It is determined by the type and intensity of radiation seen in the image. Go back and listen again to see if you can hear the individual instruments. Cool idea!

NASA released two other videos, which you can listen to below. Each video uses different instruments from the crab nebula video, but the effect is still wonderful. Hear's to space songs!

First, is the Bullet Cluster.

And finally, Supernova 1987A—this image is also a time lapse, showing how the cloud has grown in intensity over the years. Out of this world!


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