Listen to to three breathtaking NASA images


Space produces some otherworldly sounds–black hole songs, Martian dust tornadoes, and meteorites crashing into the Red Planet to name a few. Now, NASA has released three new sonifications of images taken from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.

The new sonifications highlight different celestial objects observed by NASA telescopes.

[Related: NASA turns spectacular space telescope images into vibey ‘cosmic sonifications.’]

What is sonification?

Sonification translates data into sound. Scientific data is collected by Chandra and other space telescopes as digital signals that are usually turned into the dazzling visuals that we see on Earth. Sonification takes that information and maps it into sound. 

According to NASA, the sonification scans data from one side to the other and each wavelength is mapped out to a different range of tones that our ears can hear. The light of objects is pitched higher and the intensity of the light controls the volume. Radio waves are given the lowest tones, the medium tones are visible data, and the X-rays have the highest tones. 

MSH 11-52–The Cosmic Hand

The first sonification is of MSH 11-52. This is a supernova remnant that is releasing a large cloud of energized particles that looks somewhat like a human hand. It’s estimated that light from this supernova reached Earth roughly 1,700 years ago. The supernova is seen and heard here using data from Chandra, NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), and ground-based optical data.





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