Last weekend, NASA shared a curious short video with an eerie, haunting track that’s taken over the internet — what they call the ‘actual sound’ of a black hole.
The misconception that there is no sound in space originates because most space is a ~vacuum, providing no way for sound waves to travel. A galaxy cluster has so much gas that we’ve picked up actual sound. Here it’s amplified, and mixed with other data, to hear a black hole! pic.twitter.com/RobcZs7F9e
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets)
August 21, 2022=”https:>
A far cry from the awe-inspiring James Webb Telescope reveal this summer, NASA’s latest mixtape sounds pretty damn terrifying, to be honest — so I’m glad that for the most part, space is pretty quiet. (Not that I’m heading there anytime soon.)
The galaxy cluster we’re hearing from is ‘Perseus’, the data comes from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the recording was released back in May for NASA’s Black Hole Week. As NASA explained it back then, “Astronomers discovered that pressure waves sent out by the black hole caused ripples in the cluster’s hot gas that could be translated into a note — one that humans cannot hear some 57 octaves below middle C.”
After several million degrees of amplification, the sound itself drew a great deal of interest online, where it was interpreted as everything between ‘tortured souls’ to the Hindu ‘Om’ chant. The sound continues on for about thirty seconds, before abruptly cutting off — which I honestly believe to be the creepiest part of NASA’s chilling new upload.
With existential dread forming the core of everyday internet humor, it wasn’t surprising that the black hole became the butt of an unending cascade of jokes across the last couple of days.
Some brought up a host of previous memes and horror movie tropes:
— Alpha Chrome Yayo (@alphachromeyayo) August 22, 2022
That scene in the movie when someone accidentally stumbles upon some sort of satanic cult in the middle of the woods https://t.co/5WgyePLQzm
— Elizabeth Bowen(@MissLizBowen) August 22, 2022
Others took the obvious route of rick-rolling NASA fans:
By amplifying, correcting and mixing with other data, the black hole sounds quite different. Here it is with alternative processing: https://t.co/NNC9l7B6TC
— plainview (@plainviewpar) August 22, 2022
Others referenced Icelandic avant-garde musician Björk, who commonly used strange and eerie sounds in her albums:
New bjork sounds amazing https://t.co/KKfnxa74kB
— Thiago Guimarães (@orathiago) August 22, 2022
Despite being over 250 light years away and literally being a cosmic ‘glitch in the matrix’, we humans still found a way to relate and laugh about a black hole, of all things. Figures.
Lead Image: NASA Exoplanets