National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a sonification of a planetary nebula and the video has prompted a range of reactions online.
Posted on the official Instagram account of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the clip shows Helix Nebula, a planetary nebula which is 655 light years away from the Earth.
Sonification is a process in which data is converted into sound. A nebula is a giant cloud of dust and gas that is either formed from the explosion of a dying star or are regions where new stars are beginning to form.
“While there’s no sound in space, sonifications like this help us conceptualize the data in astronomical images in a new, auditory way!” said the post with the video.
According to the post, red light was assigned to lower pitches and blue light was assigned higher pitches for the sonification.
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The Helix Nebula is 655 light-years away from us, and 3 light-years across! Near the end of a Sun-like star’s life, nebulae like this form when the star sheds some of its outer material. In this sonification, red light is assigned lower pitches and blue light is assigned higher pitches. Just as the frequencies of light increase from red to blue, frequencies of sound increase from low to high pitches. While there’s no sound in space, sonifications like this help us conceptualize the data in astronomical images in a new, auditory way! Credit: @systemsounds #NASA #Hubble #sonification #nebula #video #science #sound #space #telescope #universe
Many on social media said that the clip terrified them while others said they were fascinated by it:
IT’S THE SCREAMING EYE!!!
— Kugel (@KugelerdRemake) November 9, 2020
That is absolutely terrifying,but in a cool way!
— Jim Drummen (@jimdrummen48) November 9, 2020
— Adam Kreider (@kreider_adam) November 9, 2020
— Alexandre Callegaro (@guedxander) November 9, 2020
— 𝕴𝖈𝖆𝖗𝖔 ⚔ (@icaroggarcia) November 10, 2020
— Missing Bison Sports (@ByzenWin) November 9, 2020
— ケニー🔮✨ (@kenD637) November 9, 2020
RIP Headphone users
— Don Calzone (@DonCalzoneVIP) November 9, 2020
‘In space no one can hear you scream…
…because everything is already screaming’
— What’s Therapy? (@whats_therapy) November 9, 2020
— Anna Wrenn 🔮 (@AnnaWrenn2) November 9, 2020
A heads up will be better next time NASA pic.twitter.com/fThLosQ2ha
— Kevin Wekulo (@KWekulo) November 9, 2020
The choir of a thousand tortured souls. Beautiful
— gone (@Gone_forAwhile) November 9, 2020
Why is the terrifying space eye screaming?
— KellyO (@KellyOC2323) November 9, 2020
According to the NASA, Helix Nebula is the nearest nebula to Earth and is the remnant of a dying star, one much like the Sun in our solar system.