A Universe of Sound

M104 Sonification

The third sonification in this new batch is Messier 104, or M104 for short, one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo cluster. As we it from from Earth, the galaxy is angled nearly edge-on. This allows us a view of the spiral galaxy’s bright core and spiral arms wrapped around it. In sonifying Chandra, Spitzer, and Hubble data of M104, we begin at the top and scans toward the bottom of the image. The brightness controls the volume and the pitch, meaning the brightest sources in the image are the loudest and highest frequencies. The data from the three telescopes are mapped to different types of sounds. The X-rays from Chandra sound like a synthesizer, Spitzer’s infrared data are strings, and optical light from Hubble has bell-like tones. The core of the galaxy, its dust lanes and spiral arms, and point-like X-ray sources are all audible features in the sonification of these data.

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The Chandra sonifications were led by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), with input from NASA's Universe of Learning. The sustained collaboration was driven by visualization scientist Dr. Kimberly Arcand (CXC), astrophysicist Dr. Matt Russo and musician Andrew Santaguida (both of the SYSTEM Sounds project). For other sonifications, please see their linked pages.

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