Chandra X-Ray Observatory

The Sights and Sounds of the X-ray Universe

In collaboration with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Centre we converted images of the active core of the Milky Way galaxy into music. This video shows a sample of the different layers which were captured by three different telescopes: infrared (Spitzer), optical (Hubble), and x-ray (Chandra). Each is mapped to a different musical instrument and in each case, the pitch of the sound is determined by the object’s vertical position so that objects near the top are higher pitched. The brightness controls the volume. Small, compact sources (mostly stars!) are heard as individual notes while diffuse clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone. The activity towards the bottom right marks the location of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, Sag A*. 

Click here to listen to each layer in its entirety and the full ensemble.

X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: Spitzer NASA/JPL-Caltech; Sonification: NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Arcand, M. Russo & A. Santaguida