NASA scientists study the Sun by listening to it a soft white noise, similar to water falling on the outside of a house during a rainstorm. Watch the video…
Robert Alexander spends parts of his day listening, every once in a while, an anomalous sound and marks the corresponding time in the audio file.
He is listening to the sun’s magnetic field and marking potential areas of interest. After only ten minutes, he has listened to one month’s worth of data. Alexander is a sonification specialist who trains heliophysicists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to pick out subtle differences by listening to satellite data instead of looking at it.
This clip has three distinct sections: a warble noise leading up to a short knock at slightly higher frequency followed by a quieter segment containing broadband noise that is both rising and hissing. This clip gathered from NASA’s Wind satellite on Nov. 20, 2007, contains a reverse shock. This type of event occurs when a fast stream of plasma – that is, the super hot, charged gas that fills space— is followed by a slower one, resulting in a shock wave that travels towards the sun.