SOHO – Solar and Heliospheric Observatory – has been capturing the dynamic movement of the sun’s atmosphere for over 20 years. Now this data has been sonified – turned into sound – letting us hear the sun’s movement — all of its waves, loops and eruptions.
The sonified data captures the sun’s natural vibrations and provides scientists with a concrete representation of its movements. Alex Young is associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Young said:
We don’t have straightforward ways to look inside the sun. We don’t have a microscope to zoom inside the sun. So using the sun’s vibrations allows us to see inside of it.
These vibrations allow scientists to study a range of complex motions inside the sun, from solar flares to coronal mass ejections. Young said:
That simple sound is giving us a probe inside of a star. I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
Bottom line: Scientists have turned solar data from SOHO into sound.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.