NASA Turns James Webb Telescope Images Into Melodious Tracks. Here’s How

| Updated: September 3, 2022 9:04 pm

NASA is releasing a series of audio tracks that translate photos and data captured by the James Webb Telescope into beautiful and haunting music. Through a process called sonification, scientists captured imagery and data—including photos of the cosmic cliffs of the Milky Way’s Carina Nebula and a dying star in the Southern Ring Nebula, which were revealed in July—and turned the results into complex soundscapes.

 The data was interpreted by a team of musicians and scientists who worked with members of the blind and visually impaired community. The colours in the images “were mapped to pitches of sound—frequencies of light converted directly to frequencies of sound,” NASA team members said. 

This isn’t the first time NASA has explored recent images of space through sound. Last month, NASA shared an audio clip that captured eerie sounds emitted from a supermassive black hole more than 250 million light years away from Earth. 

Images captured on James Webb Telescope

The composition provides a different way to experience detailed information in Webb’s data, and also makes its discoveries more accessible to blind and low-vision space enthusiasts. “When I first heard a sonification, it struck me in a visceral, emotional way that I imagine sighted people experience when they look up at the night sky,” Christine Malec, a member of the blind and low vision community who worked on the project. 

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