NASA Turns “Light Echoes” From A Black Hole Into Sound
California: The mysteries of the black hole continue to baffle us despite extensive space exploration. NASA shared a video in which they employed a sonification technique that converted the light echoes around the black hole into sound waves. Thus, in a way the space agency converted light waves into sound waves so that it becomes easier to comprehend, how electromagnetic waves behave around black holes.
Material surrounding a #BlackHole can produce intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation that can bounce off clouds of gas & dust in space like a headlight in the fog. Our new sonification turns these “light echoes” from a black hole into sound. #BlackHoleFriday ⚫ pic.twitter.com/FGWIG8w4kG
— Chandra Observatory (@chandraxray) November 25, 2022
NASA shared the video in Instagram captioning it, “This new sonification turns “light echoes” from a black hole into sound.”
The caption of the video further read, “Black holes are notorious for not letting light (such as radio, visible and X-rays) escape from them. However, surrounding material can produce intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation. As they travel outward, these busts of light can bounce off clouds of gas and dust in space, like how light beams from car’s headlight will scatter off of fog.”
NASA released a video description along with the viseuls, “Circular bands of red are surrounded by a starry background. Blue bands highlight the inner and lower portions of the black hole system. During the sonification, the cursor moves outward from the center of the image in a circle. As it passes through the light echoes detected in X-rays (seen as concentric rings in blue by Chandra and red by Swift in the image), there are tick-like sounds and changes in volume to denote the detection of X-rays and the variations in brightness.”
Describing about the location of the black hole depicted in the video, NASA mentioned that this system is about 7,800 light-years away from Earth and has a black hole with a mass ranging from five to ten times that of the Sun and a companion star in orbit around it, is home to a black hole that absorbs matter from the companion star. The stellar-mass black hole’s disc, which is where this material is directed, is encircled.
NASA also revealed the telescopes used to collect the data about echoing electromagnetic waves. NASA noted, “This sonification translates X-ray data from both Chandra X-ray and Swift into sound. To differentiate between the data from the two telescopes, Chandra data is represented by higher-frequency tones while the Swift data is lower.”
Describing about the spectrum of electromagnetic waves recorded in the video, NASA stated that in addition to the X-rays, the image includes optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey that shows background stars. Each star in optical light triggers a musical note. The volume and pitch of the note are determined by the brightness of the star.