What Does The Sun Sound Like? – Forbes
What sound does the Sun make, and would it be musical if we could hear it?
Sound is a tricky thing in space. Sound is a pressure wave, an oscillation in the density of air or water, which moves through the air or through water until it reaches something it can rattle. If that sound is reaching a human ear, and if the oscillation is within the range of frequencies we are sensitive to, it will be heard. Our Earth produces a number of these pressure waves, from the sound of a person next to you speaking, or the crash of a wave on a beach, or a sonic boom of an airplane above you. However, there are plenty of sounds produced which we are outside our range of hearing – with an instrument tuned to receive those pressure waves, we can prove their presence, but it would be impossible to play back and hear it without speeding up the recording.
In space, we have a major problem with recording sounds; thereâs no atmosphere for sound waves to travel through, so any pressure waves an object may be producing will be instantly silenced without a medium to compress. However, if youâre clever about it, there are other ways of recording information which can be translated into a sound; the easiest one is vibrations. The âcrunchâ of Philae, Rosettaâs lander on the comet 67P, hitting the surface of the comet made the rounds – but this noise is not, in fact, the result of a microphone on the lander. This noise is a translation of the vibrations of the feet of the lander at the moment when it hit the surface of the comet.
However, if you want to translate a data set into sound, youâre not limited to just dealing with vibrations. You can turn pretty much anything into a set of tones, if youâre creative enough. Sonification is a booming area of data manipulation – itâs another face of the data visualization scene; instead of presenting the information visually, you can code it audibly, and listen to it over time. You simply have to decide what you want the pitch of the musical note to correspond to, what you want the timing between each note to correspond to, and what you want the volume to correspond to.
For data coming from a spacecraft which monitors the Sun, there is often a new image every hour and a half or so. In this case, the pacing between notes is easily given to the time between observations, which will form a regular cadence. However, extracting a volume and pitch out of the data will depend very much on exactly what part of the data youâre interested in reflecting.