The Stars Could Be 'Singing'

But no one can hear it
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2015 8:30 AM CDT
The Stars Could Be 'Singing'
In this image provided April 20, 2011, by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope photographed an especially photogenic group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273.   (AP Photo/NASA)

The mathematician Pythagoras long ago described "music in the spacing of the spheres," and the idea has influenced astronomy for centuries, Universe Today has noted. Now, scientists have found that the music of the spheres might exist quite literally. Researchers studying the way a laser interacts with plasma used their findings to suggest that stars may be emitting sound, Britain's University of York reports. Unfortunately, it would be so high pitched that no mammal could hear it, and anyway, it would be playing into a vacuum, since, as a researcher at the University of York puts it, "sound cannot propagate through the vacuum of space, (so) no one can hear them." Still, he says poetically: "The stars might be singing."

When researchers fired a laser at plasma, they saw that within the span of a trillionth of a second, plasma quickly moved from high-density to low-density areas. That led to what the university calls a "traffic jam" in the spot where the two areas meet. The result was pressure and ion collisions, which led to a sound wave, Popular Science reports. The exterior of a star is home to plasma, which could lead to a similar situation. "One of the few locations in nature where we believe this effect would occur is at the surface of stars," the York researcher says. "When they are accumulating new material, stars could generate sound in a very similar manner." (Meanwhile, for the first time, a NASA spacecraft is orbiting a dwarf planet.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.