• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Star Sounds

Air Date: Week of

Composite images and data from a series of infrared, optical, and X-ray instruments make up this view of Messier 74, a spiral galaxy also known as the “Phantom Galaxy”. (Photo: NASA, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

NASA turned infrared, optical, and x-ray data from space into sound in a process called “sonification,” so we can “hear” the gorgeous spiral galaxy known as the Phantom Galaxy. And within our own Milky Way galaxy is the Jellyfish Nebula, the remnant of an exploded star. Host Aynsley O’Neill walks us through these otherworldly sounds.


O’NEILL: We leave you this week with sounds from deep space.

[SFX – Phantom Galaxy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dgle5maku8&t=8s]

O’NEILL: That’s the “Phantom Galaxy”, M74, which is a gorgeous spiral galaxy, just like our own Milky Way, that’s 32 million light-years away from Earth. What you’re hearing is infrared and optical data from the James Webb and Hubble Space Telescopes, plus x-rays from the Chandra observatory. NASA turned these signals into sound in a process called “sonification”, which creates an experience you don’t need to be a scientist to enjoy. So, what sounds like just the plucking of a harp actually represents stars and clusters.

[SFX – Jellyfish Nebula: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqBfQeJqkfU ]

O’NEILL: Much closer to home at just 5000 light-years away is the Jellyfish Nebula, the remnant of an exploded star, or supernova. The Jellyfish Nebula appears right next to the foot of Castor in the Gemini constellation, but you’ll need a powerful telescope to see it. This sonification also draws on x-ray data from Chandra, as well as radio data from the Very Large Array. The water-drop sounds represent background stars.

[SFX – Jellyfish Nebula: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqBfQeJqkfU ]

O’NEILL: You can find out more and see stunning images of the Phantom Galaxy and Jellyfish Nebula on the Living on Earth website, loe.org.



More NASA Sonifications

Sonification of Phantom Galaxy

Sonification of Jellyfish Nebula


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth