‘Demons screaming’: LISTEN to the sounds NASA recorded of a black hole

By Bob Unruh

In this sonification of Perseus, the sound waves astronomers previously identified were extracted and made audible for the first time. The sound waves were extracted outward from the center. (NASA video screenshot)
In this sonification of Perseus, the sound waves astronomers previously identified were extracted and made audible for the first time. The sound waves were extracted outward from the center. (NASA video screenshot)

NASA has released a recording of what it describes as the sounds, in space, of a black hole.

And listeners are wondering whether this, in fact, is hell.

First listen:

A commentary at DJHJMedia said, “The audio has gone mega-viral, having been listened to some 156 million times in 24 hours. Many people described it as sounds coming straight from Hell.”

One listener, in fact, said, “Nasa, on a pleasant august sunday evening: hey wanna hear what’s surely the wailing of souls trapped inside a black hole since the beginning of human existence.”

Another, “Oh neat it’s the sound of demons screaming from the depths of Hell.”

And a third, “I’m not religious, but I’m starting to think that those souls sent to Hell actually end up in a black hole.”

NASA explained, “The misconception that there is no sound in space originates because most space is a ~vacuum, providing no way for sound waves to travel. A galaxy cluster has so much gas that we’ve picked up actual sound. Here it’s amplified, and mixed with other data, to hear a black hole!”

There were more details from NASA:

The report said the sounds are associated with the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster.

“This is because astronomers discovered that pressure waves sent out by the black hole caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note – one that humans cannot hear some 57 octaves below middle C. Now a new sonification brings more notes to this black hole sound machine. This new sonification – that is, the translation of astronomical data into sound – is being released for NASA’s Black Hole Week this year.”

The report said while space mostly has “no medium for sound waves” a galaxy cluster actually “has copious amounts of gas that envelop the hundreds or even thousands of galaxies within it, providing a medium for the sound waves to travel.”

The actual sounds were “resynthesized into the range of human hearing by scaling them upward by 57 or 58 octaves.”

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