Music Based on Trappist-1 Planetary Orbits is a Cosmic Symphony

May 11 2017 -- 2:00 PM

Back in February, scientists at NASA discovered seven planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star (Trappist-1), 40 light-years from our solar system. The find was highlighted because of the fact that all of the planets are roughly Earth-sized, and several of them are in a "habitable zone" around their star— that is, they're the right distance from Trappist-1, temperature-wise, to allow for liquid water. But it seems that the seven planets' orbital periods themselves are also quite unique, and when translated into music, even make for an excited, cosmic symphony.

The New York Times recently reported that a postdoctoral researcher, Daniel Tamayo, at the University of Toronto Scarborough, published a paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, where he showed how the seven planets' combined orbits around Trappist-1 may display orbital resonance. That is, the orbiting planets may "exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other" because of the ratio of their orbital periods. The qualifier "may" is used in this case, because the seven Trappist-1 planets' resonances have only been predicted by computer simulation, not confirmed by observation. Although orbital resonance certainly does exist, as evidenced by the Laplace resonance of Jupiter's moons:


In the case of the planets in orbit around Trappist-1, the New York Times notes that "the second planet completes five orbits in almost exactly the time the first planet makes eight. The third planet completes three orbits for every five orbits of the second planet, and the fourth planet makes two orbits for every three orbits of the third." It's also noted that there are other resonances between other planets.

And after Dr. Tamayo  "tuned" the orbital resonance frequencies — that is, after he tilted and shaped the planets' orbits to allow the computer simulation to run for tens of millions or even billions of years without having the planets crash into each other or their parent star — two astrophysicist/musicians next door to him (who happen to be two of four members of the band, Rvnners) used his findings as inspiration for the above track.

“I think Trappist is the most musical system we’ll ever discover,” Matt Russo, one of the astrophysicist/musicians told the New York Times. He added that he hopes he's wrong.

What do you think about this Trappist music? Want to make your own cosmic beats with the same software used to make "TRAPPIST Sounds"? Let us know below!

Images: Wikimedia / NASA, JPL-Caltech