Supermassive Black Hole Causes ‘Eerie’ Sound Waves

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Black Hole
Courtesy of Ivan T (Flickr CC0)

People may not have the ability to hear the sounds in space, but that does not mean there is no sound. In 2003, astronomers found that acoustic waves spread the gas around a black hole 250 million light-years away.

They would not have the ability to hear the sounds at their pitch. The waves from the black hole include the lowest tone in the universe that has been discovered thus far. It cannot be heard by the human ear.

However, a new sonification has been added to the notes that are detectable from the black hole and heightened the sound to 57 and 58 octaves. Astronomers can get an idea of what the notes should sound like when it rings throughout space.

This is the first occurrence of the sound waves being recorded and heard.

Black Hole Sound Waves

The note identified in 2003 is a B-flat. It is over 57 octaves under middle C. At the current tone, its frequency is 10 million light-years. Humans can detect the lowest note which has a frequency of one-twentieth of a second.

The waves of sound were recorded radially; outwards from the black hole that is in the middle of the Perseus group. It is played in a counter-clockwise direction from the middle, which makes it so people can hear the sound in all directions from the black hole at tones 144 quadrillions and 288 quadrillion times higher than the initial frequency.

The results were described as ‘eerie.’ An unhealthy howling noise was discovered similar to numerous waves that have been recorded from space and shifted into audio tones, Science Alert explained.

Noise from the black hole is not just a scientific curiosity. The plasma and weak gas that flows between the galaxies in clusters, also known as the intracluster medium, has more density and heat than the intergalactic medium outside the clusters.

Black Hole
Courtesy of bgwashburn (Flickr CC0)

Temperatures and X-ray Lights From the Black Hole

Waves of noise spreading throughout the intracluster medium are one process where the medium gets heated while they move energy through the plasma.

With the temperatures helping the regulation of the stars forming, the noise waves may play an important part in the galaxy evolving clusters over a large period of time.

The heat is the part that allows them to detect sound waves as well. With the intracluster medium being hot, it lights up bright in X-rays. The Chandra X-ray Observatory permitted the detection of sound ways originally and the sonification project.

Millions of evasive black holes conceal across the Milky Way but are in plain sight. They only show themselves sometimes through blasts of X-ray light when they cater from the stars.

Different Black Holes and Imaging

A different supermassive black hole has got the sonification treatment as well. M87* is the first black hole to be imaged directly in a massive effort by the Event Horizon Telescope alliance. It was pictured with different tools at the same time. The tools used for images were Chandra for X-rays, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array for radio wavelengths, and Hubble for seen light.

The pictures captured discovered a huge jet of matter being thrown from the space directly outside of the black hole at speeds that show to be faster than light in a vacuum. Now, they have also been sonified.

The data was not originally sound waves, it was initially different frequencies. At the lowest frequencies, the radio date has the lowest pitch in the sonification. Visual data is the middle point while X-ray is at the highest.

Converting optical data into sound could be a new way to encounter cosmic phenomena. The method also has value to science.

Occasionally, converting a set of data can show details that were hidden and allow for more information to be revealed about the unknown and vast Universe.

Written by Marrissa Kay


Science Alert: These Eerie Wails Are a Real Sound Wave From a Supermassive Black Hole; by Michelle Starr
ABC 17 News: Listen to eerie sounds from echoing black holes
Today Headline: We May Have Caught a Supermassive Black Hole Flipping Its Entire Magnetic Field – ScienceAlert

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Ivan T’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of bgwashburn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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