The Hubble Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge, providing stunning images of the universe.
However, beyond the images, a group of scientists and artists have created unique music from scientific data, offering a sonic representation of the center of the Milky Way.
This is not the first time that the universe has inspired composers. Gustav Holst composed The Planets, and John Cage created Atlas Eclipticalis by superimposing music on star maps.
However, the collaboration between NASA’s sonification project and the composer Sophie Kastner has revolutionized the musical astronomical data that a musical ensemble can produce.
The team, led by Kimberly Arcand of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics, translated information from a composite image of the center of the Milky Way into a piece of music titled Where Parallel Lines Converge.
A terrible sound
Arcand emphasizes how the visual representation of astronomical data is not always the best way to analyze this data, especially for people with visual impairments.
Since 2020, they have translated astronomical images into sounds, called sonifications, each telling a scientific story that can be followed just by listening to it.
This interpretation process involves the use of algorithms to convert the telescope’s data into sounds, allowing listeners to explore the universe through hearing.
For example, one of the sonifications represents the center of the Milky Way, using data from different telescopes, and guides the listener from left to right in the image using sounds of different tonality.
The musical instruments represent the specific data obtained by each telescope, allowing for variable interpretation of astronomical information.
This collaboration between science and art has created a fascinating intersection between the scientific and the artistic, bringing the mysteries of the cosmos through a unique musical experience.