‘Chirps’ in Space: New Album Captures Sound of Black Hole Collision | Space

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If two black holes collide in the vacuum of space, do they make a sound?

Sound waves cannot travel in the near-perfect void of space – no one can hear you scream, like Alien’s tagline go. But electromagnetic and gravitational waves can, and a new album has turned those signals from space into musical tracks.

The album, Celestial Incantations, incorporates cosmic “sounds” from within and elsewhere in our solar system, such as the oscillations of a comet, the radiation of a galactic pulsar and the fusion of two black holes.

The album is a collaboration between Kim Cunio, Associate Professor and President of Musicology at Australian National University, British artist Diana Scarborough and Dr Nigel Meredith of the British Antarctic Survey.

Cunio said the trio selected the sounds together that they used with acoustic instruments to compose each track.

“We’ve had things like Theramins and Ones Martenot that have been making the sound of science fiction for almost 100 years now,” he said. “[I thought] Wouldn’t it be great if we could acoustically accompany something that happens naturally, rather than making it synthetic? “

The first tracks begin on Earth and include the sound of compressed air bubbles escaping from a Stone Age ice core collected in Antarctica, as well as the pops and pings generated by lightning activity. .

The Cataclysm track incorporates a “chirp” of gravitational waves – ripples in space-time – emitted by the merger of two black holes, which took place 1.3 billion light years away and was detected for the first time in 2016.

“It’s so much bigger than even what I can imagine as a person,” Cunio said.

“In fact, we can’t even see what created the ripple, we can only feel the ripple. It’s almost impossible to accept, and I figured that something more was needed than what I or any other pianist I knew could actually play.

Cunio set up a virtual piano with a switch to trigger a note doubler, causing each note to be played twice as the song progresses.

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Other tracks incorporate sounds from space exploration, like NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe leaving our solar system, and the first acoustic recording of Mars’ atmosphere, recorded at Jezero Crater in February.

“Art has a role to play in really supporting science and showing what science can accomplish for all of us – all of the things we take for granted,” Cunio said. “Art can give meaning to this incredible fieldwork scientists are doing. “

Celestial Incantations is free to stream and download.

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