Space, as the known fact goes, is a very quiet place. However, that didn’t stop NASA from translating stars and galaxies into musical compositions.
“My God, it’s full of stars!” shouted Dave Bowman as he entered the monolith in A. C. Clarke’s cult book 2001: A Space Odyssey. The moment of both horror and ecstasy, later immortalized by Stanley Kubrick in the eponymous movie, opened vividly in front of us two years ago when NASA published an image called Galactic Treasure Chest. The snapshot taken by the Hubble telescope shows myriads of galaxies in all colors and orientations where each visible speck of light is home to countless stars.
Adding to the enigmatic nature of the picture, NASA has found ways how to transcribe the photograph to music. Needless to say, the final, 30-second arrangement is no less than a frightful and transcendental experience.
“A few stars closer to home shine brightly in the foreground, while a massive galaxy cluster nestles at the very center of the image; an immense collection of maybe thousands of galaxies, all held together by the relentless force of gravity,” says NASA’s description of the image. To interpret its contains in sounds, the research team assigned short and clear tones to stars and galaxies while spiraling galaxies were given longer and more complex pitches.
As NASA explained, time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top. But don’t get too caught in the technical details of the short audio clip: First and foremost, it is an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the universe from a new – or you may say unheard – perspective.