What is Data Sonification?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a sonification video of crab Nebula. The video shows Nebula being transformed into music based on its different colours.  The blue shades were translated into bass and white shades into to wood winds.

Nebula is an interstellar cloud of hydrogen, dust, Helium and ionized gases.

What is data Sonification?

Data sonification is the use of sound to represent data. It is the auditory version of data visualisations. The project helps the users to hear several astronomical phenomena such as birth of a star, black hole, birth of a cloud or dust.

How are the astronomical images translated into sounds?

The space telescopes of NASA collect huge digital data before converting them into images. This digital data is a representation of light and radiation of different wavelength in space. They cannot be seen by human eye. The Chandra project of NASA translated these digital data into sound. The recent release of creation of Nebula was under Chandra project and the Sonification Project of NASA. The Chandra project has so far released sounds of Galactic centre, Pillars of Creation and Cassiopeia.

Galactic centre

The Galactic centre is the rotational centre of Milky Way galaxy. It consists of neutron stars, dwarf stars, clouds of dust and gas and a super massive black hole called Sagittarius A. The Galactic Centre weighs 4 million times as that of the sun.

The Pillars of Creation

It is a constellation and is also known as Messier 16.


It is a constellation that is located around 11,000 light years away from the Earth. It is the remnant of a once massive star. The massive star was destroyed by a supernova explosion around 325 years ago. The image of the constellation shows a ball of different coloured filaments. Each colour in the constellation represents a particular element such as Red for silicone, purple denotes iron, yellow for Sulphur, green for calcium. The digital data of the wavelength received from these filaments are converted into sound by the Sonification Project.




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