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Posted on December 5th, 2023

Out of This World – Our Galactic Center Transformed into Playable Sheet Music

What would you do if you could actually hear the sounds our universe creates? How cool would it be if you had sheet music in your hands to play these space sounds yourself? Thanks to a collaboration between NASA and a musical composer, now you can as the images captured by NASA telescopes have been turned into playable music!

NASA telescopes provide us with incredible, gorgeous images of our universe. Thanks to the translation of these images by musical composure Sophie Kastner, we can now hear the beautiful music space creates. “Where Parallel Lines Converge” is a piece created by taking the nuanced data of our Milky Way galaxy, specifically the heart, also known as the Galactic Center, and turning it into musical notes, resulting in a symphony.

Watch and hear Ensemble Éclat play the sonification of a supermassive black hole in the Milky Way. (Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Jubett & Priam David)
This composite image of the Galactic Center along with additional data from three telescopes was transformed into playable sheet music. (Credit: NASA/STScI; IR: Spitzer NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The light wavelengths used by deep space imaging telescopes such as Hubble show up on the captured images as random swirls and streaks, which are cosmic entities like star explosions, gas bubbles, dust, and glowing stellar nurseries. Kastner focused on several key elements to create the symphony, primarily focusing on the heart of our Milky Way galaxy; the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. You can check out the image that inspired the symphony here.

Sagittarius A* is a mostly dormant supermassive black hole with a mass of 4.3 million times that of the Sun. It occasionally absorbs gas and dust. The events of the black hole, turned into viewable images by space imaging telescopes were the focus of “Where Parallel Lines Converge”. To be clear, the piece is not made up of literally recorded space sounds. It is an interpretation of data. The piece is part of the sonification project by NASA, using the Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra telescopes. So, if you want to check out what our universe sounds like, or even attempt to play it yourself, you can give it a go by viewing the sheet music to “Where Parallel Lines Converge” here.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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