A Black Hole's Sound Is Exactly As Terrifying As You Think It Is

Black holes are among the most powerful and dangerous things in the known universe. As Britannica explains, a black hole is basically an incredibly dense region of space where gravity is so powerful that nothing could possibly escape its pull. Black holes are usually formed from when massive supernova stars die. Stars typically undergo what is known as nuclear fusion to create their own thermonuclear fuel. Elements such as hydrogen are fused to then create helium, which prevents the star from collapsing in on itself (via NASA). 

This prevention of collapse is very important, as after a star runs out of its internal fuel, it will crumple in on itself from massive gravitational forces. This incredibly violent event creates a pocket of space incomprehensibly dense with matter, forming a black hole. And while the science on black holes has come a very long way over the years, there's still plenty more to discover. Recently, however, NASA has released audio of black hole sounds from space. 

How sound works in space

The idea of knowing how a black hole sounds might seem a bit contradictory. After all, it's common knowledge that there is no sound in space, regardless of how sci-fi movies portray it. But this actually isn't entirely true. As Cosmos Magazine says, sound kind of hates vacuums like space, as it needs particles to vibrate across in order to propagate. It's why there's plenty of sound on earth, as there are plenty of particles and air for sound to travel through, making it an excellent conduit. 

In many ways, this is a blessing, as space is filled with a bunch of loud objects like the sun, which would be very unpleasant to hear. However, that doesn't mean that there's no sound at all in space. Vice explains that space is also filled with suitable conditions for sound to propagate. For example, sound can vibrate through hot gas and plasma in galaxy clusters. In fact, this was a big reason why NASA was able to capture sound from a black hole. 

Black holes sound pretty frightening

In early 2022, NASA released audio of a black hole. As USA Today reports, this captured sound comes from a black hole in the Perseus Galaxy Cluster. A 34-second clip shows the sound that could very much qualify as something straight from a horror movie. And though the sounds are very much audible in the clip, someone wouldn't actually be able to hear anything at all in space, even if they were inside the black hole itself. NASA researchers instead had to elevate the frequency of the sounds collected by 144 to 288 quadrillion times just for people to hear. 

Phys explains that black holes create pressure waves, which in turn disturb and ripple surrounding hot gas, such as that in the Perseus cluster. This information can then be modified and translated into audible sounds. This project had been going on since the year 2003, but it was only recently that audio files were able to be created and shared with the general public. The release has since gone on to be viewed by millions of people. This, along with the first photograph of a black hole ever taken, marks an exciting period in the age of astronomy.