Humans have come so far in space exploration, from the first satellite to orbit the planet up to discovering other celestial bodies from far away galaxies. Humans have seen space and learned so much about them in the past decades.
Everyone knows that it is a wondrous place, full of many planets to explore, mysteries, and so much more. But of all things what space is, there is one thing that it is not: loud. In the absence of Earth molecules to help people hear, out there in the space, all you can hear is a whole lot of silence.
Fortunately, NASA figured out a way to produce sound in the soundlessness of space back in 2019.
Sonifying the galactic treasure chest
Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 took the image back in August 2018. A so-called gravitational lens that magnifies the observer's view is created by a massive intervening object, such as a galaxy cluster, when it falls between an observer like the Hubble Telescope and a more distant target in the background.
The image captured by the Hubble was part of an observing program called Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey (RELICS). The James Webb Space Telescope, which is expected to launch in March 2021, will study in greater detail the galaxies identified through the program.
NASA used the image for this project to produce sound by "sonifying" the image called a 'galactic treasure chest' because of the number of galaxies splattered across it.
NASA explained that each visible speck of a galaxy in the image is home to countless stars. A few of them shine brightly on the foreground, while a massive cluster nestles at the very center of the image. It is an immense collection of perhaps thousands of galaxies all held together by the unrelenting force of gravity.
This beautiful image just reached a new level, as it was translated into a stunningly eerie musical composition. The NASA experts that created the sonified image explains that different sounds are produced by the various locations and elements of the image.
The short and clear sounds that you hear represents the stars and compact galaxies, while the more complex and longer notes are emitted by the spiraling galaxies.
How does it work?
NASA explained in the comments accompanying the video that the time flows from left to right, while the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 hertz to 1,000 hertz. Stars and galaxies near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, and those objects near the top produce higher notes.
At first, the image might sound eerie, but near the middle part of the image, you can hear a rather beautiful melody, especially when it reaches a galaxy cluster called RXC J0142.9+4438.
The team explained that the higher the density of galaxies near the center of the image could result in a swell of mid-range tones halfway through a video.
In March 2019, a version of this article was also published.