Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way

February 5th, 2021, by Christine Reeves

A Radio View of the Milky Way
by Juan-Carlos Munoz-Mateos

Report on article: Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way

Our ancestors from the beginning time created images to represent what they saw. But how does an image turn into sound? When I turn on my radio, I know that I get the frequency of radio waves that makes it possible for me to hear the music. Observatories observe the universe, the stars, the milky way. Watzke writes of a new project that NASA Chandrix X-ray Observatory takes astronomical images into sound using their telescopes. “Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources.” (Watzke)

This tells me that the brighter the star, the higher the sound, the dimmer the star, the lower the sound. Not only can those of us who hear and see images and music but now even the blind can see through the galaxies transformed for them into sound.

Watzke explains, “Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone.” (Watzke)  What does it sound like?  It sounds like a symphony with a low base in the background.

This new project can teach and allow people of all ages to hear the milky way and understand how massive, and beautiful our milky way is. Watzke’s article informs us that this project will allow users to listen to data that are far away in light-years from us. “Each telescope plays a different instrument. Each image reveals different phenomena happening in this region about 26,000 light years from Earth.” (Watzke)

To listen to the stars makes wishing on them to a whole new level when we can hear them. In my Hospice volunteer training, the last thing to go in people is our hearing, and What a beautiful sound to put on for those we love the sound of our milky way where stars collide, where gasses move and wear stars die are all images that move us when we hear them and move us closer to the center where the star Sagittarius A is.

Work Cited

Watzke. “Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way.” NASA Government: 2020.

Imagine the Universe! The Cosmic Distance Scale. “The Milky Way About the Image”. NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center.

Published by Okanagan Valley View - Views on the Go

I am currently a second-year student in Communications, Culture, and Journalism at OUC who hopes to attend UVIC to further my education. I have shifted my educational focus to be a part of the community's communication solution and advocacy work. I am originally from Ontario and love the Fall season there, and I also love the fall season here in BC. I have always loved writing and current events. My five-year plan is to write and advocate in the community by strategically planning and developing ways to minimize the information overload and investigate false ideas of support. I am also a Mother, OFS, daughter, Auntie, sister, and friend. I am a writer and an Independent Contractor.

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