NASA releases sizzling soundtrack of the sun

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

If you were to attend a concert by the sun, what would you hear? You probably wouldn’t need earplugs. NASA released a soundtrack this week that captures the sun’s waves, loops and eruptions, and they sound like a low, pulsing hiss.

To produce the hot audio, the Stanford Experimental Physics Lab sonified data from the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (more on how that data was processed here). The vibrations let scientists study complex motions inside the star, from solar storms to solar flares that shoot hot particles and plasma into space. 

“We are finally starting to understand the layers of the sun and the complexity,” Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “That simple sound is giving us a probe inside of a star.”

The solar sounds might not get you up and dancing, but they do offer a fascinating listen to natural vibrations that can’t be heard just by turning an ear toward the clouds. 

“Waves are traveling and bouncing around inside the sun, and if your eyes were sensitive enough they could actually see this,” Young said.

NASA posted the audio to Soundcloud, where listeners had some amusing comments. Wrote one: “What message do you get when you play this backwards?” Wrote another: “Amazing drums here.” 

This is an exciting summer for our closest star. In addition cutting an LP, it’s set for a close encounter with NASA’s first-of-its-kind Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which is getting ready to “touch the sun.”

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NASA’s Parker Solar probe will touch the sun


The craft is set to launch as soon as July 31 outfitted with a “cutting-edge heat shield” and will reveal how much heat it can handle shortly thereafter. It will come eight times closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury, a region of space that’s never been explored before.   

Of course, if the moon is more your thing, Friday brings a total lunar eclipse, the longest of the century, that will showcase a “blood moon.” 

And while we’re taking in that celestial show, we’ll all eagerly await Sun Sounds, The Remix. 

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