Now humans can listen to the sound of the center of the Milky Way ‘Pillars of Creation’ and the Cassiopeia A supernova. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shared a new project that uses sonification to turn astronomical images from Chandra and other telescopes into sound. The project involves transforming data into audio.
The Pillars of Creation refers to the towering tendrils of cosmic dust and gas that sit at the heart of M16 or the Eagle Nebula.
The center of our Milky Way galaxy is too distant for us to visit in person, but we can still explore it.
Telescopes give people a chance to see what the Galactic Center looks like in different types of light.
By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.
But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing?
Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, NASA said.
The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources.
The light of objects located towards the top of the image is heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume.
Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone.
The crescendo happens when users reach the bright region to the lower right of the image.
This is where the 4-million-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A-star, resides, and where the clouds of gas and dust are the brightest.