(June 21, 2012) What does the universe look like at high energies? Thanks to the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), we can extend our sense of sight to "see" the universe in gamma rays. But humans not only have a sense of sight, we also have a sense of sound. If we could listen to the high-energy universe, what would we hear? What does the universe sound like?
A gamma-ray burst, the most energetic explosions in the universe, converted to music. Made by Sylvia Zhu (music) and Judy Racusin (animation)
Every photon has its own energy and frequency; the higher the energy, the higher the frequency. Some photons have just the right frequencies for us to see them as different colors, while others -- such as the gamma rays studied by the Fermi LAT -- are much too energetic to be seen with our eyes. Sound waves have frequencies too, and similarly, we can hear some of them as musical notes. So what happens if we convert high-energy photons into musical notes?