Pillars Of Creation

A sonic stellar nursery

We worked with NASA and the Chandra X-ray Center to convert the iconic image of the Pillars of Creation into sound. The image is a composite of optical light captured by Hubble and X-rays captured by Chandra. The image is converted to sound using a version of the inverse spectrogram method. Time flows left to right, pitch indicates the vertical position of light sources (high towards the top), and volume communicates the brightness and structure of the nebula. Compact X-ray sources (mostly hot stars) are heard as short tones while the pillars create a roaring sound that rises and falls.

Listen to the X-ray and optical layer solos below and visit Chandra’s photo album for more information. This image and sonification was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for September 30, 2020!

This sonification was a collaboration with NASA/CXC/SAO/K. Arcand and ourselves, M. Russo & A. Santaguida (SYSTEM Sounds) as part of NASA’s Universe of Learning program. Image credits: X-ray – NASA/CXC/SAO, Optical – NASA/STScI.

Apollo 11 astronaut approved!