May 16, 2011

Music In Space!

The photo above was taken in 2005 by the Japanese X-ray Astronomy Satellite named Suzaku.  So far this is the clearest image captured of a group of thousands of galaxies called the Perseus Cluster.  And at the very center of this immense cluster is a lone black hole.

It has been thought by scientists that black holes held no life and actually sucked in anything that got too close.  But this black hole has changed that theory.  The Perseus Black Hole is doing something.

In 2003 an orbiting x-ray telescope by NASA, named the Chandra X-ray Observatory, came upon this cluster of galaxies. NASA's Chandra sees the universe in x-ray light like the Hubble Telescope sees everything in visible light.  Anyway, it took this image:

Two things were immediately apparent to me.  First, space is not a vacuum of nothingness.  It has medium... particles and objects everywhere. Second, some kind of energy was emanating from the black hole as the gas particles all around it are disturbed and react in a synchronized manner.

It reminded me of the effect one sees when you throw a small rock or pebble into a lake.  It creates ripples.  So what was creating these "ripples?"  Scientists performed several tests and when it came to listening they found the answer... sound waves. The lowest sound waves mankind has ever discovered  in the entire universe, to be exact.

The black hole of Perseus is emitting a note.  In music it is known as B flat.  But this B flat is one million, billion times lower than any sound audible by human ears!

Remember the gas particles I mentioned earlier that surround the black hole?  They are so hot that they create a specific type of light that we call x-rays.  The sound waves keep the gas particles warmer than they would be without the influence of the black hole.  This produces heat energy that helps regulate the formation of new stars! And the formation of clusters of baby stars create galaxies.  How cool, or should I say, hot is that?

So what got me thinking about galaxies and black holes?  Well as some of you readers already know I had suffered the loss recently of a college student I had worked closely with. She had decided to commit suicide.  The story can be found at this post: A Storm Called Suicide.

As part of my grieving process I had decided to go back and study the book of Job during my devotions to find some comfort.  And when I reached chapter 38, the part where God finally speaks and answers Job, I was mesmerized. God's words are so beautiful and his word paintings are so captivating.  But it was these two verses that held my attention. Psalm 38: 4 + 7 says:

" Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding... when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?"  

In 2005 scientists implemented a new technique of study called "stellar seismology" using France's Carot Telescope.  It was discovered that stars don't only shine they "sing."  Just like the black hole of the Perseus Cluster stars give off sound waves and scientists are only now learning that there is more to the celestial beings than what had previously been known.

Depending on the size, age, and chemical compound of any star they will give off a unique tone or note. It may be only slightly different than the next star but never exactly the same.  And their sounds have been recorded.  Some examples are available to hear.  If you follow this link you can hear some of these recordings.  My favorite is of the "song" from a globular cluster, a tight group of stars. Singing Stars

" The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." 

Psalm 19: 1-4, Psalm 97: 6


Joseph Pulikotil said...


Actually scientific discoveries go to strengthen the might of God. But there are a few people who don't agree. They can't see and experience the miracles that are happening everyday in our lives although they have eyes to see and ears to hear for the simple reason their minds are clogged and closed. We can only pray for their redemption.

Lovely post.Very educative and inspiring.


Joseph: I think a lot of people feel jaded and bitter about life and when they see the wonder of our universe they are amazed. But they leave it at that.

Questions about how everything came to be are normally left to the scientists and issues about life and death are avoided with entertainment. An "out of sight out of mind" kind of mentality.

I agree that the best thing to do is to pray for them.

Thank you for visiting. :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

The problem with scientists is that when they reach a dead end they make preposterous statements to gain cheap publicity.

Stephen Hawking is one such man. Any one who wants to understand Stephen Hawking should first read Dr.Faustus written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1604.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi, I have come back to tell you that the author of the book is Christopher Marlowe.

Best wishes,