Take a Listen to the Sound of 13-Billion-Year-Old Stars

June 8, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

4 13-billion-year-old stars
Photo credit: University of Birmingham

It’s space music!

Have you ever wondered what 13-billion-year-old stars sound like? Then you’re in luck because, for the first time, audio recordings of a group of ancient stars were put together by a team of researchers, led by Andrea Miglio from the University of Birmingham in the UK. Not only do they sound bizarre, but the tracks also provide us with valuable scientific information.

Unlike light, sound can’t travel through the vacuum of space. However, researchers can get certain types of audio through a technique known as asteroseismology — measuring the oscillations of distant stars and then converting them into sound.

The recordings that you will soon hear are the sounds “trapped” inside the stars, which makes the stars resonate. Since the natural frequency of these oscillations are too low for humans to hear, they are sped up, and the resulting “music” can give us information about the mass and age of each star.

SEE ALSO: LHC’s “Cosmic Piano” Plays the Music of the Universe

The recordings were made using data from NASA’s Kepler/K2 missions of old stars in the Milky Way’s Messier 4 (M4) cluster — one of the oldest and closest globular clusters to the sun and Earth.

"We were thrilled to be able to listen to some of the stellar relics of the early Universe," said Miglio in a University of Birmingham news release. "The stars we have studied really are living fossils from the time of the formation of our galaxy, and we now hope be able to unlock the secrets of how spiral galaxies, like our own, formed and evolved."

Next, the researchers plan to compose additional “galactic music” to discover even more about the Milky Way’s history by looking at many different types of stars within the galaxy.

"The age scale of stars has so far been restricted to relatively young stars, limiting our ability to probe the early history of our galaxy," said Guy Davies, also of the University of Birmingham and the co-author of the study. "In this research we have been able to prove that asteroseismology can give precise and accurate ages for the oldest stars in the galaxy."

The findings are published in journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

You must be anxious to know what the stars sound like. You can click HERE to listen to the four eerie recordings.

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