“Hear” the cosmos: from dark matter to comet Churyumov – Gerasimenko

It is known that sound does not spread in airless space. But space cannot be called dumb. We tell how planets and other space objects “sound”, and where to listen to them.

NASA / Unsplash Photos

Radio for Dark Matter

Dark matter – makes up a large part of the universe. Scientists know (thanks to gravitational anomalies) that dark matter exists, but it has not yet been registered. It does not emit light, as well as any other electromagnetic radiation visible to modern telescopes. A group of physicists has proposed a way to detect dark matter – to “listen” to it. They are developing a kind of "radio" based on gravitational wave detectors. They will trap axions – hypothetical neutral particles that hold protons and neutrons together – which are an essential part of cold dark matter.

This year, physicists from Stockholm University proposed an approach that will enhance the effect of "radio". They suggested that the electric field of axions can be used to create oscillations in the plasma, which will make the signal more pronounced.

Note that in 2017, a similar project began to be developed at Stanford University. The basis of their "radio" for dark matter was the concept of wave-particle duality. It assumes that material microscopic objects exhibit the properties of waves under certain conditions, and, under others, the properties of particles. And these waves can be detected with antennas and resonators. You just need to tune in to the frequency of dark matter. The signal is likely to be very weak, so engineers are additionally developing highly sensitive magnetometers. They can sense fields with induction of less than one femtogauss. While scientists are trying to "hear" dark matter, some sounds of space can be heard now.

Black hole and the "voice" of Jupiter

So that we can hear how the planets and other celestial bodies “sound”, physicists transform electromagnetic waves into sound waves. This is a creative process that is similar to making music. Cosmic radiation was first converted to sound in 1996. Then the Galileo probe recorded Jupiter's electromagnetic waves. True, later it turned out that these were charged particles from the planet’s satellite – Ganymede.

We managed to make the necessary audio recording in 2016. Then NASA published a record from the Juno spacecraft at the time it entered the Jupiter magnetosphere. The probe transmitted sounds to the Earth that arose during the interaction of the planet’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

There is a similar entry from Saturn. It was made by the Cassini probe, which flew from Earth in 1997. The source of the radio waves that Saturn emits is aurora at the poles of the planet lasting from several minutes to an hour. The acoustic background of the gas giant is characterized by a large number of high and low tones and a constant change in sound frequency.

In 2014, the Fila apparatus from the Rosetta probe landed on the surface of comet Churyumov – Gerasimenko. There he recorded the sound made to her with a tool for studying the plasma medium. The comet “sings” at a frequency of 40–50 MHz – plasma particles passing through a magnetic field cause vibrations.

If we talk about other celestial bodies, back in 2003, physicists from Cambridge, led by Andrew Fabian, discovered a “singing” black hole in the Perseus cluster – in the center of a cluster of galaxies. Astronomers used the Chandra telescope. He captured x-rays that emanated from the very center of the cluster. So scientists have identified sound waves from a supermassive black hole.

The accumulation of galaxies makes cosmic gas “pulsate” due to many gravitational influences – it makes a low “sound” indicating a change in pressure in a black hole. Scientists believe that she has been singing for many billions of years, and the noise produced by her is 57 octaves lower than the “do” note. This is beyond the reach of the human ear.

Hubble Music

NASA employees turned ultrasound data into Hubble telescopes into "music." A special computer algorithm assigned a sound to each element in the pictures taken. He assigned short sounds to stars and small galaxies, and long sounds to spiral galaxies.

Many Western publications have called this "music" creepy and intimidating. By the way, NASA has its own account in SoundCloud – there the agency uploads not only thematic podcasts, but also other sounds from space.

What else are we writing about in our Hi-Fi World:

Russian scientists recorded the music of space pulsars
The new ultrasonic sensor allows you to "listen" to bacteria – how it works
Listen to Find Failure: Audio Recordings of Failed Industrial Machines
“Bitchy Betty” and modern audio interfaces: why do they speak in a female voice?
Audio Interfaces: Sound as a source of information on the road, in the office and in the sky
Earth Rumble: conspiracy theories and possible explanations

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