NASA has released audio which seemingly confirms black holes create noises that sound like ghostly extraterrestrial groans and howls, in spite of the fact the vacuum of space makes it difficult to hear much of anything.
An audio clip of eerie sounds that emanated from waves of pressure rippling from a black hole through a cluster of galaxies was uploaded to the Twitter account that NASA uses for its exoplanet studies on Monday (August 22)—and the internet is totally freaked out.
“The misconception that there is no sound in space originates because most space is a ~vacuum, providing no way for sound waves to travel. A galaxy cluster has so much gas that we’ve picked up actual sound,” NASA said.
Listen to the spooky sounds NASA recorded from black-hole pressure moving across the Perseus galaxy cluster in the video below.
The real sounds, however, are 57 octaves below middle C, which is far beyond the range of human hearing.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory recorded data from the ripples in the Perseus cluster, visible in X-ray, which corresponded to inaudible sounds.
NASA then increased the noises’ frequencies by 144 and 288 quadrillion times from their true pitch in order to make them audible.
The audio clip was first released by NASA in May, but the Monday publication sparked a flood of fresh online responses.
“This is cool — and really, really spooky,” CNN anchor Jim Sciutto wrote on Twitter.
The BlindBoy Podcast’s Twitter account said that the black hole sounded like “a billion souls being tortured.”
It was likened to “that scene in the movie when someone accidentally stumbles upon some sort of satanic cult in the middle of the woods” by Canadian actress Elizabeth Bowen.
“Everyone is talking about how eerie this is but to me the way it just cuts off is by far the creepiest part,” said Phil Plait, an astronomy blogger.
According to NASA, the idea that there is no sound in space is a common myth.
NASA also revealed a more pleasant sonification of noise data from M87, the black hole that was featured in the first black-hole snapshot released by the Event Horizon Telescope project in 2019.
In addition to being derived from the X-ray data collected by the Chandra telescope, that music also combines audio interpretations of the optical data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope and the radio waves collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile.
Because that data combination took more creativity than raising the pitch of a sound, NASA turned it into lovely music.
The portion of the M87 music that is the loudest matches to the portion of the image that is the brightest, which is exactly where the black hole is located.
However, it is unclear what other sounds we might hear in this recording.
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