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YouTube: NASA, @TheMermaidsSong/Twitter

NASA never ceases to amaze with its research, and their latest YouTube video is a great example.




The video depicts a Hubble Space Telescope image of our universe. The sound for the clip is a Sonification of the image.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sonification as:

"The use of non-speech sound to convey quantifiable information or represent data, typically as the output from an electronic device; the conversion of data into sound for this purpose."

In this case, the information being conveyed is the contents of the image in music. NASA describes the sound in the description of the video:

"Time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 to 1,000 hertz. Objects near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, while those near the top produce higher ones."


Sonification of a Hubble Deep Space Image youtu.be

The Hubble Space Telescope has given us a wealth of other amazing images. We now know more about distant galaxies, and not-so-distant planets thanks to the telescope.


Galaxy D100NASA, ESA, M. Sun (University of Alabama), and W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University)


Uranus and NeptuneNASA, ESA, A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong and A. Hsu (University of California, Berkeley)


Twitter users seemed to have mixed feelings about the sonification.

Many didn't find the clip particularly scary. Several people got distinct sci-fi vibes though.




Felines evidently do find the sounds disturbing, though.


Quite a few people suggested what the clip sounded like. Whales were a popular suggestion.



Some certainly did find the sounds creepy.



The Hubble Space Telescope has given us so much information about the universe around us—observations that we literally could not have made without the ability to see deep into outer space. So if occasionally someone at NASA decides to turn one of those discoveries into a bit of vaguely creepy music, we think that's just fine.

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