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Listen to the sound of a black hole, recorded by NASA

The new "sonification" has been scaled up around 57 octaves for human ears


NASA has released an audio recording of a black hole.

Recorded by the agency's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the recording is of pressure waves sent out by the black hole within the Perseus galaxy cluster, which causes ripples in the cluster's hot gas. The new "sonification" - which was released as part of NASA's Black Hole Week this year - is essentially a translation of astronomical data, scaled up 57 or 58 octaves above their true pitch so it can be heard by humans.

"The popular misconception that there is no sound in space originates with the fact that most of space is essentially a vacuum, providing no medium for sound waves to propagate through," said NASA in a statement. "A galaxy cluster, on the other hand, has copious amounts of gas that envelop the hundreds or even thousands of galaxies within it, providing a medium for the sound waves to travel."

"The sound waves were extracted in radial directions, that is, outwards from the center. The signals were then resynthesized into the range of human hearing by scaling them upward by 57 and 58 octaves above their true pitch."

"Another way to put this is that they are being heard 144 quadrillions and 288 quadrillion times higher than their original frequency. The radar-like scan around the image allows you to hear waves emitted in different directions. In the visual image of these data, blue and purple both show X-ray data captured by Chandra.”

Check out the recording and visual image below.

The discovery comes a month after NASA unveiled a recording that revealed that Mars has two speeds of sound. Back in January, New Scientist revealed that a "mysterious object" was blasting radio waves in space.

In November, NASA shared a musical representation of a nebula in deep space – the Butterfly Nebula – using data sonification, which involves converting data to sound.