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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA Turns Light into Sound Frequency Creating a Milky Way Symphony (LISTEN)

•, By Andy Corbley

A collaboration between NASA and musicians has seen a photograph of the Milky Way from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory turned into a musical piece after they matched the wavelengths of light to wavelengths of sound in order to show our home galaxy in a whole different light—namely a musical one.

While astronomers working with Chandra weren't chilling out to the lo-fi beats of the Milky Way (feat. Supermassive Black Hole) when they took the photograph of the galactic center, it did dawn on them that they were producing a pretty false image, since they were imaging X-rays that can't be seen by the human eye.

It's been standard practice to color code various wavelengths of light, even if those don't correspond to light our eyes would actually perceive, in order to disseminate X-ray space photographs to the public.

This time, Kimberly Arcand, an expert in astronomy visualization at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian, collaborated with several musicians to create a musical guide to interpreting the contents of the photograph.

The galactic center is just the most recent and expressive musical track, but many other features and regions of space have been "sonified" with the help of astrophysicist and musician Matt Russo, and sound engineer Andrew Santaguida who together run a project called System-Sounds that sonifies astronomical data.