The Earth's Magnetic Song
(Photo : European Space Agency via YouTube) The European Space Agency generated this music produced by the Earth's magnetic field during a solar storm through the Cluster mission.

One of the common myths in space is that sound does not exist. However, a recent study shows the reaction of the Earth's magnetic field when bombarded by solar wind produces frequencies when converted to sound waves that can be seen as some song. 


When the Earth's magnetic fields are bombarded by the solar wind during those moments they call the solar storms, energetic particles are being thrown from the atmosphere of the Sun towards the solar system in general. To be able to hear the sounds produced by these waves, researchers from the European Space Agency transformed the wave frequencies to sound waves. The effect is something straight out of science fiction, according to the ESA. 

To understand how it works, think of the electromagnetic waves as vibrations that are usually humming in Earth's atmosphere, most specifically in the region called the magnetosphere. These waves occur at a relatively stable frequency. However, when it is being bombarded by swarms of energetic particles, it bursts out into sound with various frequencies. In a statement, officials from the European Space Agency explained, "In quiet times, when no solar storm is striking the Earth, the song is lower in pitch and less complex, with one single frequency dominating the oscillation." They also explained that when a solar storm hits, the frequency of the wave is roughly doubled, with the precise frequency of the resulting waves being dependent on the strength of the magnetic field during the storm. 

The sound waves were collected through ESA's Cluster mission, which consists of four spacecraft that are designed to study the Earth's magnetic field and how it reacts and interacts with the particles coming from the Sun. The waves for this music were generated by Lucile Turc, a particle physicist at the University of Helsinki and a former research fellow at the European Space Agency. Turc and the team used portions of nearly 20 years of Cluster observation. These data were collected during six periods between 2001 and 2005, where Cluster flew into the foreshock, a region in the magnetosphere where particles from the Sun first hit the Earth's magnetic field during solar storms. 

Through Cluster, it was revealed that the waves generated by the magnetic fields of the planet are far more complex than originally thought. For instance, a single but dominant wave frequency that permeates in the Earth's magnetic field when solar activity is at its lowest can be divided into several different frequencies, not to mention doubles in frequency, when a solar storm happens. 

In a statement, Turc explains, "Our study reveals that solar storms profoundly modify the foreshock region." According to Turc, the changes in the foreshock during these events can affect space-weather activities that are close to the surface of the planet. 

Meanwhile, astronomers and scientists are still trying to analyze what exactly happens during a solar storm and when it bombards the foreshock. What they do know, however, that these particles will not be thrown back to space as the solar storm pushes it inside the planet in a process that takes about 10 minutes.