If you’ve been content to go through life not knowing what a supermassive black hole looks like (perhaps because of its creepy name or a desire not to think about endless darkness), your luck is out.
On Sunday, NASA released an audio clip that depicts actual sound waves emanating from the huge black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster, located more than 200 light-years away.
The sound is edited so that it can be heard by human ears. Nasa mixed it with “other data” and amplified it, saying the idea that there is no sound in space was a misconception.
“The misconception that there is no sound in space stems from the fact that most space is an empty ~, leaving no way for sound waves to travel,” NASA tweeted. .
“A cluster of galaxies contains so much gas that we picked up real sound. Here it’s amplified, and mixed with other data, to hear a black hole!
The clip, which sounds like a cosmic grunt or an ominous wind tunnel, caught the internet’s attention, and many said it sounded exactly like they imagined a supermassive black hole.
Others turned to horror imagery to describe it, and some commented on the ethereal nature of the sound.
“Somehow you knew a black hole was going to look like creepy ghosts instead [of] gentle ocean waves,” Twitter user Asher Honickman said. wrote.
Some have turned to pop culture to describe it, with references to the sci-fi cult classic Event horizon and the horror movie silent Hill. One Twitter user thought it sounded like Pink Floyd’s Echoes, and another joked it was new music by Icelandic singer Björk.
And a section of the internet felt that it looked more like bodily functions than anything else. “It feels like my stomach at 6:30 p.m. when the early evening shows are over. #Hungryinspace”, Natasha Stenbock wrote.
The sound itself is from Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and was actually released in May.
The agency then described it as a result of pressure waves emitted by the black hole, saying it was a whopping 57 octaves below middle C, meaning scientists needed to increase the frequency quadrillions of times to make it audible.
“Astronomers found that the pressure waves emitted by the black hole caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note – a note that humans cannot hear about 57 octaves below the middle do,” they said in a statement.
“In some ways, this sonification is unlike any done before…because it revisits actual sound waves discovered in data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.”