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Listen to the eerie music of ancient stars

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have recreated the "music" of some of the oldest stars in the Milky Way galaxy.


Messier 4 as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Did you know that stars make sound? Not so you'd be able to hear, of course, not without some intervention, since sound cannot travel as sound through the vacuum of space. We do know, however, that other information from space, such as radio waves and electromagnetic disturbances, can be recorded, then converted into audio, resulting in some truly otherworldly noises.

This is what researchers from the University of Birmingham have done to recreate the "music" of some of the oldest stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Using a technique called asteroseismology, the team studied the resonant oscillations of stars, miniscule changes in the stars' brightness driven caused thermal energy, converted into kinetic energy resulting in pulsing light. This allows researchers to learn about the internal structure and age of stars, much like terrestrial seismology teaches us about the internal structure of the Earth.

The stars they examined using this technique are in Messier 4, a globular cluster with an estimated age of 12.2 billion years. You can listen to one below, and the rest on an interactive infographic here.

M4 star