Sound, in we humans’ audible range, does not travel through the vacuum of space. But if it could, the Sun would be putting on one heck of a concert, all day, every day. This “Sun Sonification” video from NASA, which demos our parent star’s theoretical hum, gives us a sense of what that concert would sound like, but don’t be fooled: Even though the noise seems bearable in the clip, one solar physicist did the math and found out that, on Earth, the Sun’s noises would literally be as loud as a rock concert—which makes it seem like it’d be even more raucous than the screaming sun from Rick and Morty.
The eerie hum playing in the clip, which sounds like something you’d hear coming from a dank basement in an episode of the X-Files, was generated from 40 days of data collected from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory’s (SOHO) Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI). SOHO is a solar observation spacecraft in orbit around Earth, and the Michelson Doppler Imager is an onboard instrument that takes measurements of the Sun’s photosphere to help give insight into the workings of the magnetic fields that influence the structure of the corona.
After the data was collected from MDI, it was then taken by Alexander G. Kosovichev at the Stanford Experimental Physics Lab, and “sonified.” The National Science Foundation notes that this process takes place by changing the light wave data captured by MDI and then translating it into sound waves using computer models that are able to identify relationships between the two phenomena.
The roaring surface of the Sun. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
In an unrelated, yet still relevant, bit of science (which comes via Futurism), solar physicist Craig Edward DeForest calculated how loud the Sun would actually be on Earth. In a detailed response to a question on reddit that asked “IF sound could travel through space, how loud would The Sun be?” DeForest noted that we can actually see the infrasound waves that are present all over the surface of the Sun all of the time—the same infrasound waves that Kosovichev used as the basis for the Sun sonification sounds in the video up top.
DeForest calculated that if “leaked sound” from the Sun—which he told Astronomy would sound like “10,000 Earths covered in police sirens, all screaming”—could somehow propagate to Earth, it would blast at about 100dB per square meter. For reference, Industrial Noise Control says 100dB is the sound spectrum inhabited by things like power lawn mowers, motorcycles, farm tractors, jackhammers, garbage trucks, or a jet flyover from just 1,000 feet up. Or, you know, a star that seems to be scared as Schitt of the universe it was born into:
What do you think about this theoretical audio of the Sun’s screaming hum? Does our parent star sound exactly like you thought it would, or did you expect a different kind of howling? Let us hear your thoughts bright and clear in the comments!
Feature image: Adult Swim