Categories: Videos

What Does a Nebula Sound Like?

What do things sound like out in the cosmos? Of course, sound waves can’t travel through the vacuum of space; however, electromagnetic waves can. These electromagnetic waves can be recorded by devices called spectrographs on many of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Astronomer Paul Francis from the Australian National University has used some of these recordings and converted them into sound by reducing their frequency 1.75 trillion times to make them audible, as the original frequencies are too high to be heard by the human ear.

“This allows us to listen to many parts of the universe for the first time,” Francis wrote on his website. “We can hear the song of a comet, the chimes of stars being born or dying, the choir of a quasar eating the heart of a galaxy, and much more.”

Above, is Francis’ recording of a nebula. It is actually a medley of sounds from different nebulae, but our friend César Cantú of the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico, has put together the sounds with images he took of the Rosette Nebula, or NGC2244.

This provides both a visual and audio hint of what a nebula might sound like, if our ears could hear at electromagnetic frequencies. Being able to ‘hear’ this gives one a feeling akin to being Superman! — as well as offering new insights into our Universe.

Francis also has the sounds of the Sun, quasars, comets, other nebulae, and more. Check out his audio recordings here.

And many thanks to César Cantú to for sending us his video.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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