People who have listened to the black hole sound clip that NASA uploaded on Twitter have described it as “scary” and “ethereally wonderful.”
According to a tweet from the U.S. space agency, the Perseus galaxy cluster, located approximately 240 million light-years from Earth, is home to a black hole that was turned into a remixed sonification.
Identified sound waves were there nearly two decades ago and were “extracted and made audible” this year for the first time in history, explained NASA.
People were astounded that anything, much less what sounds like a creepy, guttural moan, could exit a black hole after watching the 34-second film, which erupted on social media.
However, the idea that there is no sound in space is a “popular misconception,” said the space agency.
Because most of the space is a vacuum with no medium for sound waves to pass through, a galaxy cluster has enormous amounts of gas surrounding hundreds or thousands of galaxies within it, enabling a medium for sound waves to travel, the agency explained.
The video, which NASA referred to as a “Black Hole Remix,” was initially released in early May to coincide with Black Hole Week. However, a tweet from the NASA exoplanets team on Sunday got people’s attention since the video had been viewed over 13 million times.
After 53 hours of observation, researchers with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory “discovered that pressure waves sent out by the black hole caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note.”
However, the frequency of that note was too low for humans to hear because it was equal to a B-flat, roughly 57 octaves below the middle C note of a piano, according to NASA. So, Chandra astronomers altered the audio and raised the frequency by 57 and 58 octaves. As a result, the frequencies are being heard 144 quadrillions and 288 quadrillion times higher than they were original, according to NASA.
Though not everyone liked the remixed sounds of the black hole, the project and NASA’s tweets about it seem to have succeeded in the space agency’s objective to engage the general public in their latest discovery.