Huffpost Science

The Sound Of A Dying Star Isn't What You'd Expect (SIMULATED AUDIO)

Posted: Updated:
SOUND OF A DYING STAR
Artist concept of a growing black hole, or quasar, seen at the center of a faraway galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) | NASA/JPL-Caltech

When scientists watched a black hole devour a dying star last year, they were blessed with a plethora of data to study. But there was one question particularly on the minds of some astronomers: What did it sound like?

Well, truth be told, it didn't sound like anything because there's no sound in space (or at least not any at a wavelength audible by the human ear).

But based on the data collected by NASA's SWIFT satellite and other instruments, scientists have figured out what a person might hear were they actually able to hear an event like this. "You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured, if you like," Jon Miller, a University of Michigan astronomer, said in a statement according to Space.com.

The answer is surprisingly simple: It sounds like a D-sharp played with a synthesizer about 16 octaves lower than the middle of a keyboard. However, according to CNN (which has provided the audio below), the sound is at a frequency well below what the human ear can perceive.

Miller's estimate is the result of light data captured after the dying star was being consumed, the Atlantic reports. Essentially, Miller and his team took the flashes of light that were emitted as the star was torn apart and interpreted them into sound waves.

From the Atlantic:

Miller and his team detected clear patterns in the numbers that resulted -- a pattern, he says, that might resemble what you'd see if you were to chart light being manipulated by a rheostat. "What we did in this case was to look at the light that we got from this event as a function of time," Miller explains. And they wanted to find a way to illustrate the numbers that resulted -- in other words, to bring their findings to life. "We decided that maybe a music analogy would work," he says.

Listen to the whole interview below, or skip to about 4:00 to hear the closest sound to Miller's interpretation possible.

Around the Web

The Sound of a Dying Star

Dying star screams as it falls into black hole

Black Hole Kills Star And Scientists Hear The Dying Screams (VIDEO)

The Sound of a Dying Star - Megan Garber - The Atlantic

The sound of a dying star – CNN Radio News - CNN.com Blogs

The sound of a dying star by CNN on SoundCloud - Create, record ...