NASA transforms a Hubble photo into music

The image that was chosen is 'galactic treasure chest' and the musical result is astounding.


Although space is a very quiet place as well as mysterious and fascinating, NASA scientists have decided to translate an image from the Hubble space telescope into sound, into music. The photograph in question, full of galaxies, was taken by the Hubble Advanced Camera in August 2018.

It was in 2019 that NASA discovered a way to produce sound in the soundproofing of space and scientists working with Hubble used the image named 'galactic treasure chest' because of the number of galaxies dotted on it as a canvas on which work your particular piece of music.

"Galaxies abound in this spectacular image of Hubble; spiral arms revolve in all colours and orientations, and you can see diffuse elliptical mottled on the frame as gently shining spots on the sky," NASA explained regarding the image

"Every visible particle in a galaxy houses countless stars. Some closer stars shine brightly in the foreground, while we can find a huge cluster of galaxies in the centre of the image; an immense collection of perhaps thousands of galaxies, all united by the relentless force of gravity".

If this image itself is fabulous, NASA has taken a step further by transforming it into an astonishingly spooky musical composition. This image showing the wonders of the universe shows 41 star clusters, each containing billions of stars.

How does an image translate to sound?

NASA scientists applied a different frequency to each object in the image. The entities at the top of the image have a higher frequency and those at the bottom a lower frequency. Thus, the sonified image exposes that the different locations and elements of the image produce different sounds: stars and compact galaxies are represented by short, clear sounds, while spiral galaxies emit more complex and longer notes. The result is almost exactly as we would expect deep space to sound, even though, as we have recalled, there is no sound in space.

"Space is 'sonified' in this visualization of a group of galaxies photographed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Time flows from left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, from 30 to 1,000 hertz,” NASA clarifies.

How does this music sound? A little creepy, everything has to be said, at least for the first few seconds. Once you get used to it, the 'sounds' of the Hubble telescope photo create a truly beautiful melody, especially about half-way through, when the sound reaches a cluster of galaxies called RXC J0142.9 + 4438 that produces a lot of mid-range tones.

"The higher density of galaxies near the centre of the image results in a wave of mid-range tones in the middle of the video," NASA explained.

Vídeo: The sonification of a space image

Reference: NASA / Hubble

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