You’ve Seen the New Image of the Milky Way’s Black Hole – Now Hear It!

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This is a sonification — translation into sound — of the latest image from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Using a radar-like scan, the sonification begins at the 12 o’clock position and sweeps clockwise. Changes in the volume represent the differences in brightness the EHT observed around the event horizon of Sgr A*. The material that is closer to the black hole and hence moving faster corresponds to higher frequencies of sound. This sonification was processed in a special way to allow a listener to hear the data in 3D stereo sound, in which the sounds seem to start directly ahead and then move clockwise to one ear and then the other as the sweep is made.

About the Sound:

  • This is a radar-like scan, starting from 12 o’clock and moving clockwise.
  • The brightness controls the volume and the radial position controls the frequencies that are present.
  • The emission from material closer to the black hole (which orbits faster) is mapped to higher frequencies.
  • The sound is rendered in binaural audio. When listened to with headphones, the sound will appear to start directly in front of you and then move clockwise all the way around your head.
  • Listen for the three bright regions at about 1, 5, and 9 o’clock, as well as the very low tones indicating fainter light from outside the main ring.

Sonification Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/K.Arcand, SYSTEM Sounds (M. Russo, A. Santaguida);

Image Credit: Radio: EHT Collaboration; X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO); Infrared (NASA/HST/STScI)

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