Listen: Soundtrack of the Sun

March 13th, 2012

Credit: NASA/SOHO Project

Hear, Hear: What’s a Solar Storm Sound Like?

A “sonification” of measurements taken during a solar storm is data taken from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury, as well as from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which is about 1 million miles from the Earth.

To “sonify” the data, Robert Alexander, a University of Michigan design science doctoral student, began by writing 90 hours worth of raw information to an audio waveform.

Sonification is the process of translating information into sound. For example, it is like that in Geiger counter radiation detectors that emit clicks in the presence of high-energy particles.

With this technique, Alexander hopes to build a bridge between science and art.

“For a while, movies were silent and people just accepted that that’s the way it is,” he said. “There’s all this high-rez footage of what’s happening on the surface of the Sun, and it’s silent. I’m creating a soundtrack,” he noted in a just-issued press release.

What does a solar storm sound like?

Take a listen in this video at:

By Leonard David