NASA has managed to capture the chilling sound of a black hole while it “devours” – Teach Me Science

X-ray image of the Perseus cluster. The sound of the black hole revealed by NASA is located at the center of such a cluster of galaxies. Credits: https://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2022/sonify5/more.html

A Universe of Sound! As part of the “NASA Learning Universe” project, which aims to connect the public with discoveries in astrophysics, and, in commemoration of the Black Hole Week 2022 of the same space agency, it has been shared, to through its official page, the impressive and real sound of a black hole and here we show it to you:

That’s right, what you just heard is the real sound of a black hole, specifically the one located in the center of the Perseus cluster of galaxies. The location of this cosmic object is very important because it is immersed in a vast amount of gas from the galaxy cluster that provides the proper physical medium for the waves emitted by the black hole to propagate and for us to hear them.

In this way, as described by NASA, this cosmic object has been associated with sound since 2003 when astronomers detected that the pressure waves emitted by the black hole generated waves in the gas of the galaxy cluster in which it is located, the which, through certain methods, could be translated into a sound perceptible by the human ear.

To do this they used sonification, which is a technique capable of using astronomical and digital data captured by space telescopes to translate them into sound. Although such a process does not seem to be easy at all since, as NASA reports, for this to be possible it was necessary to extract the previously identified sound waves to resynthesize them and bring them to the audible spectrum for the human ear, increasing them “by 57 and 58 octaves per above its actual pitch”, that is, “it is heard 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion times more than its original frequency. (A quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000.)” Awesome!

Despite the amazing opportunity to hear the sound of a black hole immersed in space, this is not the first time that sonification has played an important role in astronomy, previous NASA projects have already translated different astronomical images into sound so that In addition to captivating our eye with the different cosmic bodies, we also perceive it with a sense of hatred to magnify our experience.

In fact, there is a NASA project called “A Universe of Sound” in which you can find a wide range of cosmic images to explore with the sense of hearing: “Our new project brings parts of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and of the greater Universe, to listeners for the first time.” So if you want to continue captivating you can enter: A Universe of Sound.

Despite this, the most important thing about this new NASA sonification that differentiates it from any other previously revealed is that they are interpretations of the real sound waves discovered in the Chandra X-ray Observatory data, as described in the Universe Sound. In this way, we can hear the concrete translation of the sound of a black hole.

In the same NASA note called “New sonifications of NASA black holes with a remix” they annex one more sonification of the black hole in Messier 87, a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation of virgo. You can listen to it below:

For its interpretation, translation and staging in this video, NASA indicates that data from three space telescopes were used: X-rays from Chandra, optical light from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and radio waves from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile seen in the video from top to bottom, respectively.

This is an exciting development for astronomy lovers, who can no longer just admire the universe by looking at it, but can now experience it with their hearing.

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