Just over two years ago, NASA successfully captured the sounds of Earth, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, in addition to the sounds of Saturn’s rings, Uranus’ rings, and various moons throughout the solar system:
Today, astrophysicists from the University of Birmingham and scientists with NASA have captured the sounds of Gemma, which is a sun approximately twice the size of the Sun in our solar system. Gemma is 3,100 trillion miles from Earth, and starquakes originating from its surface and making their way to its core cause it to vibrate similar to a musical instrument. Astroseismology made this possible: flickers of light from these starquakes can be utilized to determine the specific sound of a star itself.
In this case, according to Dr Bill Chaplin (astroseismologist at Birmingham University), the sound was like air being blown into a microphone, and this sound reveals much about the star’s internal structure, size, and age: “Essentially stars resonate like a huge musical instrument. Stars make sounds naturally but we can’t hear this as it is has to travel through space. Like a musical instrument, stars are not uniformly solid all the way to their core, so the sound gets trapped inside the outer layers and oscillates around inside. This makes the star vibrate causing it to expand and contract. We can detect this visually because the star gets brighter and dimmer and so we can reconstruct the sounds produced from these vibrations.”
Before these findings, scientists at Sheffield University had recently recorded eerie musical harmonies on the sun’s surface. NASA’s Kepler space telescope was used to detect minute fluctuations in light, which is also an effective technique for detecting planets around stars. Fascinatingly, similar to how a cello generates a deeper sound than a violin, large stars generate lower frequencies when compared to small stars. Furthermore, the way sound waves pass through stars’ helium and hydrogen layers reveals much about their internal composition.
With all of this info and all of these insights in mind, it has been determined that Gemma is over 5.94 billion years old, which makes it approximately 1 billion years older than the Sun in our solar system. Moreover, it will grow even larger than twice the size of our Sun as it transforms into a red giant. As per head author Thomas Kallinger, “We are just about to enter a new area in stellar astrophysics. Kepler provides us with data of such good quality that they will change our view of how stars work in detail.”
For even more cutting-edge research on the sounds of heavenly bodies, do checkout the links below:
#1: Jupiter’s roar.
#2: Waves of plasma.
Saturn’s other eerie sounds
#5: A pelted comet.