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Last weekend I was at the LSE for a talk on sonic landscapes. It included a presentation on some of the sounds recorded by helioseismologists (people who study movements within the Sun). Technically space is a bit silent because, despite tripping over planets and asteroids, there aren’t many molecules floating around freely that would be able to support transmitting any sound. Fortunately there are ways around it* and in this 3 minute clip (annoyingly I don’t seem to be able to embed it) Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock takes us on an audio tour of the universe, in advance of a sounds of the universe special on BBC 4 tomorrow. Can’t wait 😀


Audio credits:

(1) Sound of the Sun – wide-band-pass-filter, Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network

(2) Jupiter’s Chorus – Nasa/Donald Gurnett, University of Iowa

(3) Voyager leaving the heliosphere – Tim O’Brien/Nasa

(4) Pulsar – Tim O’Brien/Patrick Weltevrede/Cees Bassa/Sam Bates.

Slideshow production by Victoria Weaver, Rob Liddell and Paul Kerley. Publication date 8 March 2014.

* “The acoustic waves detected by BiSON are analogous to sound waves on the Earth. Imagine the oscillating surface of the Sun behaving like a sound source. For instance, a loudspeaker produces sound by generating compression waves in the air due to the movement of the cone. These pressure waves are detected by the ear and transmitted as electrical impulses to the brain. Similarly, the BiSON spectrometers are sensitive to spectral lines in sunlight. By observing the Doppler shift of these spectral lines we are able to reconstruct the movement of the solar surface and calculate the frequencies present using discrete Fourier methods. We can think of this as listening to the sound of the Sun. As with many sound sources, these are not pure tones and we need to extract the notes which are of interest to us.”
Source: Sounds of the Sun from High-Resolution Optical Spectroscopy, Birmingham BiSON