AUG 19, 2022 3:15 PM PDT

Ever Wondered What Our Universe Sounds Like?

WRITTEN BY: Amanpreet Kaur

Our Universe is quite a dynamic environment with stars exploding to their deaths, black holes merging, stars being torn apart by black holes, repeating explosions from the surface of stars, and more incredible events. Have you ever wondered what these phenomena sound like? Maybe or maybe not. Either way, a team of astronomers has been quite curious to hear the sound of the Universe, therefore they started the process of data sonification. As you might have already guessed, this process simply refers to converting data into sound. It is not performed just for our amusement, but also to provide an alternative way to experience the images, data, and discoveries to blind and visually impaired groups of people. This could also motivate them to pursue a career in this field or participate in events related to it. Overall, this work would make astronomy more inclusive and therefore will have amazing applications in research, education, and outreach. 

This team provided an overview of 100 sound-based astronomy projects which are ongoing. They also discuss in detail the shortcomings/challenges of these projects and finally, they provide future directions to utilize these techniques to their best to broaden the application within the astronomy community. 

Please check the following link to see the current projects in astronomy that are going through data sonification:

https://sonification.design

Also, check the following video to see an example of an astronomical phenomenon known as a fast radio burst(a radio signal lasting a few milliseconds to 3 seconds caused by an unknown astrophysical process):

Moreover, another factor at play here is that our ears can process audio information better than visual information. For example, a change in pitch coming from some data is more easily heard than a slight difference in color. In the coming era of big data, this process will be fruitful to make even more discoveries. 

Source: Nature astronomyphys.org

About the Author
PhD in Physics
Aman (she/her) is a scientific writer at labroots and an astrophysics researcher at Penn State University. She works in the field of high-energy astrophysics such as black holes, gamma-rays, etc., and collects data from various space telescopes to conduct her research. She received her doctorate from Clemson University in Physics. On a personal note, she loves spending time out in nature; camping or hiking. If given a choice, she will decorate her house only with plants, did she say she likes plants? :D
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