X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech;
Sonification: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Arcand, M. Russo & A. Santaguida
The center of our Milky Way galaxy is too distant for us to visit in person, but we can still explore it. Telescopes give us a chance to see what the Galactic Center looks like in different types of light. By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.
But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing? Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for the first time. The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources. The light of objects located towards the top of the image are heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone. The crescendo happens when we reach the bright region to the lower right of the image. This is where the 4-million-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* (A-star), resides, and where the clouds of gas and dust are the brightest.
Users can listen to data from this region, roughly 400 light years across, either as "solos" from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope, or together as an ensemble in which each telescope plays a different instrument. Each image reveals different phenomena happening in this region about 26,000 light years from Earth. The Hubble image outlines energetic regions where stars are being born, while Spitzer's infrared image shows glowing clouds of dust containing complex structures. X-rays from Chandra reveal gas heated to millions of degrees from stellar explosions and outflows from Sagittarius A*. ...
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk. — Garrison Keillor
<<Wind chimes are a type of percussion instrument constructed from suspended tubes, rods, bells or other objects that are often made of metal or wood. Since the percussion instruments are struck according to the random effects of the wind blowing the chimes, wind chimes have been considered an example of chance-based music. Wind chimes that sound fairly distinct pitches can, through the chance movement of air, create simple melodies or broken chords.
Most chimes employ pentatonic (the black keys or the white keys: C, D, E, G & A) or tetratonic (C, D, E & A) scales as the basis for the pitches of their individual chimes as opposed to the traditional western heptatonic scale (the white keys: C, D, E, F, G, A & B). This is largely due to the fact that these scales inherently contain fewer dissonant intervals, and therefore sound more pleasant to the average listener when notes are struck at random.
Roman wind chimes, usually made of bronze, were called tintinnabulum and were hung in gardens, courtyards, and porticoes where wind movement caused them to tinkle. Bells were believed to ward off malevolent spirits and were often combined with a phallus, which was also a symbol of good fortune and a charm against the evil eye.>>
Who knew that our Galaxy is such an accomplished musician?
I was a bit disappointed in the central black hole, though. I had expected a bit more sound and fury there. But perhaps there is none, because Sgr A* is not surrounded by a thick dusty accretion disk that is acting up?