Scientists Capture the Mournful Wailing of a Black Hole
Listen to it right here!
Is it a car accelerating? A wailing group of sinners in purgatory?
It’s easy enough to see how anyone could mistake the rather horrifying sounds of a black hole that NASA just recorded and released on their official YouTube channel Wednesday. The black hole is located at the center of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster, whose sounds NASA has been studying since 2003.
The clip below uses “sonifcation” to translate pressure waves sent out by the black hole into a note. NASA said the popular misconception that space doesn’t have any sound is only true in places where space is a vacuum and doesn’t provide a medium for sound waves to move through. A galaxy cluster, on the other hand, has gas that envelops the hundreds or even thousands of galaxies within it, giving sound a medium.
Humans sure do love spooky nature sounds — look at the popularity of whale song and even machines that help mushrooms “talk.” But it’s hard to get “sounds” out of space, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory made sure to list a few fascinating facts about the effort it took to create the 34-second clip in a release about the project.
The team observed the black hole between 1999 and 2009 then re-sonified the sound waves so humans could hear it. The sounds were scaled by 57 and 58 octaves above their true pitch, or about 7 piano-lengths, and the team spent more than 416 hours in total observation time to get the job done.
Hats off to such a dedicated team for going the distance just so we get spooked by creepy cosmic chatter.
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