A Universe of Sound

Westerlund 2 Sonification

This is a cluster of young stars — about one to two million years old — located about 20,000 light-years from Earth. In its visual image form, data from Hubble (green and blue) reveals thick clouds where stars are forming, while X-rays seen from Chandra (purple) penetrate through that haze. In the sonified version of this data, sounds sweep from left to right across the field of view with brighter light producing louder sound. The pitch of the notes indicates the vertical position of the sources in the image with the higher pitches towards the top of the image. The Hubble data is played by strings, either plucked for individual stars or bowed for diffuse clouds. Chandra‚Äôs X-ray data is represented by bells, and the more diffuse X-ray light is played by more sustained tones.

WD2 Composite WD2 X-ray WD2 Optical




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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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