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Listen to how the black hole sounds – new NASA black hole remixes with remix

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As part of NASA Black Hole Week, two new voices of well-known black holes were released.

  • Two new voices of famous black holes have been released[{” attribute=””>NASA’s Black Hole Week.
  • The Perseus galaxy cluster was made famous because of sound waves detected around its black hole by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 2003.
  • Scanning like a radar around the image, the data have been resynthesized and scaled up by 57 and 58 octaves into the human hearing range.
  • For M87, listeners can hear representations of three different wavelengths of light — X-ray, optical, and radio — around this giant black hole.

A black hole in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster

Since 2003 a black hole in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster was related to sound. This is because astronomers have found that pressure waves emitted by a black hole create ripples in the hot gas of the cluster that can be translated into a note – one that humans cannot hear 57 octaves below mid-C. Now the new pronunciation brings more notes in this black color hole sound machine. This new sound – that is, the translation of astronomical data into sound – is released for NASA’s Black Hole Week in 2022.


A new black hole in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster. Author: NASA / CXC / SAO / K.Arcand, SYSTEM Sounds (M. Rousseau, A. Santaguida)

In some ways this exclamation is different any other made earlier because it is reviewing the actual sound waves found in NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The common misconception that there is no sound in space stems from the fact that much of space is essentially a vacuum that does not provide a medium for the propagation of sound waves. On the other hand, a cluster of galaxies has a large amount of gas that envelops hundreds or even thousands of galaxies in it, providing an environment for the propagation of sound waves.

In this new voice of Perseus, sound waves previously identified by astronomers were extracted and heard for the first time. Sound waves were extracted in radial directions, that is, out of the center. The signals were then resynthesized in the human hearing range, increasing them by 57 and 58 acts above their true height. Another way to say that they sound is 144 quadrillion and 288 quadrillion times higher than their original frequency. (A quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000.) Radar scanning around an image allows you to hear waves radiating in different directions. In the visual image of this data, blue and purple show X-ray data made by Chandra.


A new black hole in the center of the M87 galaxy. Author: NASA / CXC / SAO / K.Arcand, SYSTEM Sounds (M. Rousseau, A. Santaguida)

A black hole in the center of the galaxy M87

In addition to the cluster of galaxies Perseus, a new version of another famous black hole. Researched by scientists for decades, the black hole in Messier 87, or M87, has gained celebrity status in science since first issue with Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in 2019. This new tasting does not include EHT data, but examines data from other telescopes that observed the M87 on a much larger scale around the same time. The image in visual form contains three panels, which from top to bottom are X-rays of Chandra, optical light from NASA[{” attribute=””>Hubble Space Telescope, and radio waves from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile. The brightest region on the left of the image is where the black hole is found, and the structure to the upper right is a jet produced by the black hole. The jet is produced by material falling onto the black hole. The sonification scans across the three-tiered image from left to right, with each wavelength mapped to a different range of audible tones. Radio waves are mapped to the lowest tones, optical data to medium tones, and X-rays detected by Chandra to the highest tones. The brightest part of the image corresponds to the loudest portion of the sonification, which is where astronomers find the 6.5-billion solar mass black hole that EHT imaged.

These voices were directed by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) and included in the NASA Universe of Learning (UoL) program with additional support from the Hubble Space Telescope / Goddard Space Flight Center. The collaboration was organized by visualization scientist Kimberly Arkand (CXC), astrophysicist Matt Russ and musician Andrew Santaguido (both from the SYSTEMS Sound project). The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Chandra X-ray Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory oversees science from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts. NASA’s training materials are based on work supported by NASA under the Cooperation Agreement, NNX16AC65A, awarded to the Space Telescope Research Institute in partnership with Caltech / IPAC, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and the Smithsonian and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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