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Black Hole Strikes Deepest Musical Note Ever Heard
Science.com ^ | September 9, 2003 | Robert Roy Britt

Posted on 08/14/2009 9:31:19 AM PDT by HIDEK6

Astronomers have detected the deepest note ever generated in the cosmos, a B-flat flying through space like a ripple on an invisible pond. No human will actually hear the note, because it is 57 octaves below the keys in the middle of a piano.

The detection was made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and announced at a press conference today.

The note strikes an important chord with astronomers, who say it may help them understand how the universe's largest structures, called galaxy clusters, evolve. The sound waves appear to be heating gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster, some 250 million light-years away, potentially solving a longstanding mystery about why the gas surrounding this cluster and others does not chill out as existing theory predicts.

The gas is apparently dancing excitedly to the eons-long drone of a deep B-flat.

Black hole music

Astronomers were not surprised to find the supermassive black hole making a strong sub-bass sound. Though these greatest known matter sinks are by nature dark and invisible, they create bright and chaotic environments in which many forms of radiation -- from radio waves to visible light to X-rays -- have been recorded. These electromagnetic waves all travel at the speed of light.

Sound waves are similar, but they travel far more slowly and are more physical in nature. Sound you hear, for example, can be produced by the visible compression and expansion of a stereo speaker. The waves physically compress the stuff through which they move, be it air, water, or hot interstellar gas.

Other studies have shown that the riotous activity around black holes -- where gas is accelerated to nearly light-speed -- produces many notes that are, all together, much like music. Collectively, the cosmos produce, scientists believe, a cacophonic symphony of inaudible tunes.

Musical production appears to be ubiquitous in Nature. Scientists often call it flicker noise, and it has also been detected in the X-ray outputs of magnetic fields within our solar system. Even Earth hums its own tune. Musical analogies are found in everything from seascapes to brainwaves.

Way out of range

The 53 hours of Chandra observations revealed a note that is more than a million billion times deeper than what you can hear.

"We have observed the prodigious amounts of light and heat created by black holes," said Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, England, and leader of the study. "Now we have detected the sound."

"The Perseus sound waves are much more than just an interesting form of black hole acoustics," said Fabian's colleague Steve Allen. "These sound waves may be the key in figuring out how galaxy clusters grow."

Scientists had previously observed large amounts of hot gas infusing clusters. Given what's known, the gas should cool over time, however. Cooler gas would create areas of lower pressure near the center of a cluster, causing fringe gas to fall inward. In the process, trillions of stars would form.

This isn't what astronomers see when they look at clusters, though.

The Perseus cluster is the brightest known in X-rays, making it a good target for study. It has two large, bubble-shaped cavities that extend away from a central black hole. The cavities are formed by jets of material ejected from the black hole's surroundings, and the jets have been suspected of heating the outlying gas. But scientists couldn't see how.

A special image-processing technique was used to bring out subtle changes in brightness that revealed the presence of ripples -- the sound waves.

Fabian and Allen figure the sound waves, observed spreading out from the cavities, heat the gas. The amount of energy involved is staggering, equal to what would be produced if 100 million stars exploded.

A single, long-sounding note is produced by a sound wave in which the waves are the same size and shape continuously. The newfound note has been sounding, the researchers say, for about 2.5 billion years.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; Technical
KEYWORDS: bflat; blackhole; blackholes; music; science
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I found this to be extremely fascinating.
1 posted on 08/14/2009 9:31:21 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: HIDEK6

Yes, sound waves do so well in space. /s


2 posted on 08/14/2009 9:34:41 AM PDT by allmost
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To: HIDEK6
World_Wide_Recorder_Concert
3 posted on 08/14/2009 9:35:19 AM PDT by astyanax (I'm here to spread peace, love and happiness... so get the f*#% out of my way.)
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To: HIDEK6

“Scientists had previously observed large amounts of hot gas.”

It happens frequently.


4 posted on 08/14/2009 9:36:32 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: HIDEK6

very interesting.


5 posted on 08/14/2009 9:36:54 AM PDT by dixiebelle
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To: allmost

In space no one can hear your Polonaise N°6 l’heroique.


6 posted on 08/14/2009 9:36:57 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: HIDEK6

When I was studying acoustics in music school thirty years ago, the prof used to say “If you play Bb below middle C, and then play it up 40 octaves higher, you’ll get the color yellow.”

He always smirked when he said it, so I’ll leave it to someone with a better understanding of optics to tell me if that’s really true.


7 posted on 08/14/2009 9:37:58 AM PDT by Maceman
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To: HIDEK6

Too bad Les Paul died, he could have made a guitar capable of playing those notes, true genius.


8 posted on 08/14/2009 9:38:52 AM PDT by PrairieRoot (Here's hoping Global Warning extends the hunting and logging seasons.)
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To: allmost
Yes, sound waves do so well in space. /s

Sometimes, I think they just make this stuff up to see if anyone's reading it.

In space, I thought, "no one can hear you scream." Yet, black holes just go right on, defying the laws of physics by making noise in space.

9 posted on 08/14/2009 9:39:23 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: HIDEK6

very cool.


10 posted on 08/14/2009 9:40:17 AM PDT by my small voice (A biased media and an uneducated public is the biggest threat to our democracy)
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To: HIDEK6
When it comes to black holes, you'd better C# or you'll B♭...
11 posted on 08/14/2009 9:40:34 AM PDT by null and void (We are now in day 205 of our national holiday from reality. - 0bama really isn't one of US.)
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To: HIDEK6

Hey, my stereo will reproduce that. The problem is the only album ever recorded that has that note is a Spinal Tap bootleg...


12 posted on 08/14/2009 9:40:38 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Tijeras_Slim
"Now we have detected the sound."

Apparently these people think they can.
13 posted on 08/14/2009 9:41:07 AM PDT by allmost
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To: allmost

You folks are missing the awe and wonderment of it all.


14 posted on 08/14/2009 9:43:29 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: Pride in the USA; Stillwaters
I love that God sings because it pleases Him...even if we cannot hear Him.

Other studies have shown that the riotous activity around black holes -- where gas is accelerated to nearly light-speed -- produces many notes that are, all together, much like music. Collectively, the cosmos produce, scientists believe, a cacophonic symphony of inaudible tunes.

Musical production appears to be ubiquitous in Nature. Scientists often call it flicker noise, and it has also been detected in the X-ray outputs of magnetic fields within our solar system. Even Earth hums its own tune. Musical analogies are found in everything from seascapes to brainwaves.

15 posted on 08/14/2009 9:44:52 AM PDT by lonevoice (This tagline is identical to the one you are reading)
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To: HIDEK6

I love B flat, its my favorite chord as well.


16 posted on 08/14/2009 9:45:03 AM PDT by Danae (- Conservative does not equal Republican. Conservative does not compromise.)
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To: null and void

LOL good one! LOL


17 posted on 08/14/2009 9:45:49 AM PDT by Danae (- Conservative does not equal Republican. Conservative does not compromise.)
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To: HIDEK6

The ‘music of the spheres’ is an ancient concept.


18 posted on 08/14/2009 9:47:06 AM PDT by allmost
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To: HIDEK6
Well, I suppose everyone gets a gift. In the Rev. Jerimiah Wright's case I suppose it's music...Oh, wait a minute, black holes not black a-holes?
19 posted on 08/14/2009 9:49:47 AM PDT by meandog (Doh!)
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To: HIDEK6

The cosmic Brown Note?


20 posted on 08/14/2009 9:50:23 AM PDT by edpc (HR 3200 - One thousand sheets on a 2-ply roll)
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To: allmost
And then there's Gustav Holst.
21 posted on 08/14/2009 9:51:47 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: HIDEK6
All this time I've been impressed with 30Hz.

Photobucket

22 posted on 08/14/2009 9:53:06 AM PDT by SiVisPacemParaBellum (Peace through superior firepower!)
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To: Lou L

“Kepler discovered physical harmonies in planetary motion. He found that the difference between the maximum and minimum angular speeds of a planet in its orbit approximates a harmonic proportion.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonice_Mundi


23 posted on 08/14/2009 9:54:29 AM PDT by CaptainK (...please make it stop. Shake a can of pennies at it.)
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To: HIDEK6
Maybe that's why so many worship songs are written in "F"
24 posted on 08/14/2009 10:02:00 AM PDT by blues_guitarist (Obama is a putz!)
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To: HIDEK6

I’m becoming more and more convinced that earth is the only place in the universe that harbors higher forms of life. The reason is that most parts of galaxies are just far to violent to have a stable environment like we have had on earth for four billion years. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that our solar system is on the outside margin of our galaxy, with the nearest star from the sun far far away.

On Science Channel TV last night they had a simulation of galaxies spinning around a massive black hole. It looked like oatmeal going down a garbage disposal and being spit out again. There’s no way a planet like earth could survive a trip like that.

So there may be “billions and billions” of solar systems that could harbor life, but very few that could be a stable incubator for the four billions year it took man to come into the scene. Scary thought.


25 posted on 08/14/2009 10:02:08 AM PDT by BigBobber
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To: HIDEK6
So this explains it. I've often wondered why F-major is my favorite key.

And B-flat-major is my next favorite key. I'll bet there's a black hole out there sending out a pure E-flat tone!

Another thing. I discovered the Circle of Fifths as a child, fooling around with the piano. I wondered where it went, in both directions. Then when I studied music seriously, I learned the answer: To infinity, in each direction. I'll betcha there's an entire Black Hole Orchestra out there playing Circle of Fifths to infinity in each direction.

And imagine other possibilities, if we have infinity and eternity as our playpen.

And some people don't think God has a sense of humor!

Or even that He exists!

What a hoot!

I had a dear employee once who had more problems than anyone could imagine--including alcoholism, homosexuality, oppressed minority status--you name it.

Once I told her a joke that was a bit--well--sacreligious. Then it occurred to me that I might have offended her.

To try to soothe possible ruffled feathers, I said: "I think God has a sense of humor, don't you?"

After thinking for a moment, she replied: "I'm depending on it."

You can see why I loved her.

26 posted on 08/14/2009 10:03:57 AM PDT by Savage Beast (Katy Abram = Rosa Parks)
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To: HIDEK6
The 53 hours of Chandra observations revealed a note that is more than a million billion times deeper than what you can hear.

I can hear 20 cps, divide that by a million billion and you'll have the frequency of that observed by Chandra, or 0.00000000002 cycles per second.

27 posted on 08/14/2009 10:07:16 AM PDT by Rudder (The Main Stream Media is Our Enemy---get used to it.)
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To: Rudder

So how many hours per cycle is that?


28 posted on 08/14/2009 10:09:41 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: Lou L
Sometimes, I think they just make this stuff up to see if anyone's reading it.

In space, I thought, "no one can hear you scream." Yet, black holes just go right on, defying the laws of physics by making noise in space.


The article could do a better job of explaining that the sound waves are being propagated through the huge expanse of gas surrounding the black hole. Bad reporting doesn't equal bad science.
29 posted on 08/14/2009 10:12:06 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Chopin could .........


30 posted on 08/14/2009 10:12:30 AM PDT by Eaker (The Two Loudest Sounds in the World.....Bang When it should have been Click and the Reverse.)
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To: BigBobber
On Science Channel TV last night they had a simulation of galaxies spinning around a massive black hole. It looked like oatmeal going down a garbage disposal and being spit out again. There’s no way a planet like earth could survive a trip like that.

I believe the current thinking is that there is a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy as well. Obviously our sun orbits the center at a distance sufficient to let it and us exist - along with many other stars, some of which might conceivably have planets supporting life.
31 posted on 08/14/2009 10:17:16 AM PDT by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: HIDEK6

You would think they would state the actual frequency at least once in the entire freakin’ article.


32 posted on 08/14/2009 10:17:58 AM PDT by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.)
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To: HIDEK6

I’ll be danged. Even lower than Tennessee Ernie?


33 posted on 08/14/2009 10:18:08 AM PDT by badgerlandjim (Hillary Clinton is to politics as Helen Thomas is to beauty.)
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To: justlurking
You would think they would state the actual frequency at least once in the entire freakin’ article.

I confess to looking for just that information when I first read the article.

Then I got lost in the idea of it all.

34 posted on 08/14/2009 10:22:13 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: badgerlandjim
I’ll be danged. Even lower than Tennessee Ernie?

Yes!

Even lower than the good looking Oak Ridge Boy who sang the "pa-pa-oo-mau-maus" on Elvira.

35 posted on 08/14/2009 10:23:44 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: justlurking
You would think they would state the actual frequency at least once in the entire freakin’ article.

That would have actually been informative, huh?
36 posted on 08/14/2009 10:23:44 AM PDT by FreedomOfExpression
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To: HIDEK6
This is incredibly stupid. If you do the math, it works out to one oscillation every ten million years or so. C is 440 Hz, which is close enough to Bb. One octave down is 220 or 440 x 2-1. So 57 octaves down is 440 x 2-57, which is a ridiculously small number of oscillations per second so it helps to divide the reciprocal by 60x60x24x365.25 to get years per oscillation. Anyone who thinks something like this can be observed or measured needs serious help.

ML/NJ

37 posted on 08/14/2009 10:23:50 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: HIDEK6
"No human will actually hear the note, because it is 57 octaves below the keys in the middle of a piano"

Nonsense. Apparently this guy has never heard the base singer for the Coasters, Nat Williams.

38 posted on 08/14/2009 10:25:05 AM PDT by 101voodoo (OBAMA- THE OPIATE FOR THE DUMB ASSES)
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To: HIDEK6; All
So how many hours per cycle is that?

More than a year per cycle, possibly?
Math wizards, can you help us out here?
39 posted on 08/14/2009 10:25:43 AM PDT by FreedomOfExpression
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To: HIDEK6

Micheal Moore burped?


40 posted on 08/14/2009 10:27:06 AM PDT by reaganbooster (The democrat party symbol should be the grim reaper instead of the donkey.)
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To: ml/nj
Lost my head. 440 is A. Middle C is 256. So it's closer to 18 million years.

ML/NJ

41 posted on 08/14/2009 10:27:36 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: BigBobber
I’m becoming more and more convinced that earth is the only place in the universe that harbors higher forms of life.

I'm not a creationist, but I think this is probably the case for this galaxy.

For example, it has been demonstrated that Earth has the right-sized moon to allow life to develop. Life takes a long time to develop. If the moon were smaller (or wasn't there at all), Earth would have an unstable axis: polar regions would change every 100,000 years or so and life wouldn't have a stable environment in which to develop. If the moon were bigger, we'd have an unstable double-planet system. Combined with our relatively quiet location in the galaxy, our abundance of water, our moderate size, our atmosphere and our distance from the sun, I think we have a unique place in the galaxy.

42 posted on 08/14/2009 10:28:58 AM PDT by kidd (Obama: The triumph of hope over evidence)
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To: ml/nj
"A" below middle "C" is 440 hz, but I get your point (middle "C" is 256 hz).

Assuming your calculations are correct, not only would it take 10 million years to get the one cycle, but music is defined as "regular vibrations", so youd have to observe for at least 20 million years to be sure the vibration you first observed was regular.

I think the way the came to the conclusion was to have assigned the "regular vibration" property to the phenomenon then they calculated the number of vibrations per 100 million years to get the pitch.

43 posted on 08/14/2009 10:29:08 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: HIDEK6

44 posted on 08/14/2009 10:30:29 AM PDT by WVKayaker (God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.-D.Webster)
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To: ml/nj

Wow! You ARE fast!
You must have been reading my mind when I was posting.


45 posted on 08/14/2009 10:31:16 AM PDT by FreedomOfExpression
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To: Rudder
Aquiring the note for only 53 hrs only allows for detecting a note with a frequency greater than 1*10-5Hz by Nyquist's criterion. That means they don't know the frequency very well and are simply extrapolating.
46 posted on 08/14/2009 10:34:09 AM PDT by spunkets
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To: spunkets

Sort of how they are calculating the obama deficit?


47 posted on 08/14/2009 10:39:58 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: HIDEK6
"A" below middle "C" is 440 hz, but I get your point (middle "C" is 256 hz).

Oops, dyslexia strikes again.

"A" above middle C is 440. "A" below middle "C" is 220.

Guess we'll have to re-extrapolate.

48 posted on 08/14/2009 10:41:40 AM PDT by HIDEK6
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To: CaptainK

One of my physics profs had a recording he’d made of what this would sound like. It was really pretty, a very unique sound.


49 posted on 08/14/2009 10:44:33 AM PDT by Hoffer Rand (There ARE two Americas: "God's children" and the tax payers)
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To: kidd

Yes, I’ve read some of those theories about the moon being a guardian angel for life. It is another reason why I think life may be isolated to earth. The events that allowed the earth to have such a large moon may be very very rare.


50 posted on 08/14/2009 10:45:15 AM PDT by BigBobber
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