NASA has created musical sensations from our galaxy with a method called sonification – the technique of translating data into sound.
The project translates X-ray, apparent and infrared light data – collected from far-flung areas of the Milky Way by three NASA telescopes – into audio.
Additional sensational audio pieces illustrate the residues of a supernova known as Cassiopeia A and the ‘Pillars of Creation’.
Image data for the project was collected from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope and they all record different regions of the light spectrum.
The translation starts on the left side of the image and shifts towards the right, and as the cursor shifts across the image, sounds represent the position and brightness of light sources.
‘Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone,’ NASA said.
Likewise, there is something of a crescendo as the listener gets to the bright region to the lower right of the image.
This is the spot that hosts the 4-million-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* , and the clouds of gas and dust are the brightest here.
Users can listen to data from the Galactic Centre either as solos from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope, (X-ray, Optical and Infrared, respectively) or together as an ensemble
The Hubble image defines powerful regions where stars are being born, while Spitzer’s infrared image reveals luminous clouds of dust comprising complex structures.
The ensemble and solo alternatives are accessible in an online audio library on Chandra’s website.
‘As with the sonification of the Galactic Centre, the vertical position of the recorded light controls the pitch, but in this case it varies over a continuous range of pitches,’ NASA explains.
‘Particular attention is paid to the structure of the pillars which can be heard as sweeps from low to high pitches and back.’
Cassiopeia A is the residual of an enormous star that died in a fierce supernova explosion more than 325 years ago and it is located 10,000 light-years away in the northern constellation Cassiopeia.
Satellite light readings can enable scientists to comprehend the mass and size of stars in other galaxies and their planets.
The Great Observatories program indicated the power of utilizing varied wavelengths of light to create a fuller picture of the universe, NASA said.