If you can remember your primary school’s astronomy classes, the surface of a star is a very volatile place with tons of chemical reactions and extreme motions, and with immense gravitational pull. Generally a place you would not want to be. But researchers are now saying that if you were to orbit a star, it may be possible, with the right equipment, to hear what a star is saying! Or Singing?
Would you want to hear the sounds of stars?
The sound, unfortunately, is so high pitched that no mammal, not even a dolphin or bat, would be able to hear it, and couldn’t be heard anyway because space is a vacuum and there is no air medium for the sound to travel in.
With a frequency of nearly one trillion hertz, the sound was not only unexpected, but six million times higher than what any mammal can hear. But the researchers have developed a method to hear what they poetically refer to as “singing” or a star’s “song.”
Britain’s University of York’s researchers of hydrodynamics – the study of fluids in motion – fired a laser beam at the plasma in the laboratory and found that within a trillionth of a second, the plasma quickly moved from high-density to low-density areas.Plasma is a state of matter that makes up most things in the known universe and a few things on earth like lightning strikes and neon signs. It is basically a gas that has been charged with enough energy to loose the electrons from the atoms holding them together.
The spot where the low-density and high-density areas meet led to what the University researchers called a “traffic jam,” and resulted in an apparent sound wave, allowing us to know the sounds of stars.
Though this was achieved in the laboratory, scientists have yet to try to hear the sounds of a real star.
Dr. Pasley, a scientist from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, , said: “One of the few locations in nature where we believe this effect would occur is at the surface of stars. When they are accumulating new material stars could generate sound in a very similar manner to that which we observed in the laboratory–so the stars might be singing–but since sound cannot propagate through the vacuum of space, no-one can hear them.”
The technique used to observe the sound waves in the laboratory sort of works like a police speed camera, allowing scientists to accurately measure how the fluid would sound at the point of being struck by the laser at very minute timescales. The research was published in Physical Review Letters.
Perhaps in the future we might be able to listen in on the sounds of stars instead of just viewing it, and hear what they have to say!