The sound of a dying star
August 16th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

The sound of a dying star

By Libby Lewis, CNN

(CNN) - Think of this: you’re an astronomer, and you and your team have detected, for the first time, a star being devoured by a supermassive black hole almost four billion light years away.

This is the first time astronomers have captured this drama happening so long ago – and so far away – with a black hole this large.

So, you’re the astronomer – and your team sees this by scanning and crunching a pile of numbers.

(The numbers represent the signals captured by NASA’s SWIFT satellite and orbiting telescopes, and beamed down to Earth.)

Fine. But how do you get this across to the REST of us?

The astronomer we’re talking about is Jon Miller at the University of Michigan. He figured – what if we describe what it would SOUND like?

[2:43] “Sound doesn’t travel in space, unfortunately. But Star Wars wouldn’t have been much fun if things blew up silently, right?”

So he and his team translated the frequency of the signals they captured in all those numbers into a sound. Listen to find out how.

soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Randy Causey

    I think I heard whales mating.
    16 octaves below concert A?
    that's a sound closer to tectonic plate movement.

    Listen to this "Geophysicist Shares a Song of Earth's Polarity"


    this is where the science is put into something the rest of us can consume

    August 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Light

    The amount of retardation in these comments.

    Your expectations are too high, you think you're all apart of the minority of genius's in the world in some way, and think you know better, but you don't.

    You're a common peasant stuck in a box earning next to nothing and working for someone who spits on you on a daily basis. You'll never have the brains these people do so stop trying to argue that you're smarter and more knowledgeable than the ones who have devoted their lives to the study of space and science.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Photon

      Thank you so much for saying that. I'm a PhD candidate and have seen my fare share of wannabe scientists drop away from professional science because of how hard it is. I haven't made it yet myself, though I hope to. The process teaches me humility and that the great masters are so well respected because of the quality of their thought and the accuracy of their predictions. Too many people try to deal with their own ignorance by pretending they understand that which they do not. Your words, angry though they may be, come from a truthful place. The best and brightest of us have to study for about a decade before we can hope to even contribute to the scientific process, and laypeople keep belittling us by dismissing our ideas without even understanding them. It's disrespectful to the years of my life that i have dedicated to unlearning that which I thought I knew, and it's disrespectful to all the scientists who are much better than I.

      August 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Teimoor

    i had to laugh at the end of this report ..... "imagine if we could ......."
    Science reporting at its best.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Seth

    LOL... Why the hell would they translate light fluctuations into sound that no one can hear?
    It's not sound to begin with, why would they translate the data to sound unless to create an interesting AUDIBLE experience??

    Next they're going to translate the data into a haiku and never tell anyone about it..

    Then they're going to translate the data into microscopic dots on a pin head and never give anyone a magnifying glass..

    THEN they're going to attempt the most technically mind boggling conversion to date......
    They will convert the data of light fluctuations that cannot be seen with the naked eye.. into actual LIGHT that cannot be seen with the naked eye!
    And then they are going to use a satellite to detect these light fluctuations and record it as data so they can convert it INTO A HAIKU! AND NEVER TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT! :)

    August 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      I never, ever post on these things but that was awesome. So... thanks!

      August 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickabyrne

      its a radio story! thats the medium! there's no point visualising it

      August 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rico

      Awesome analogy!

      August 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul L

    CNN's science reporting will always suck, and this is a particularly hilarious example.

    She forgot to mention we couldn't hear the sound but we could physically feel it at a high enough amplitude, most likely in our sternums.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Not Deaf

    What must I download where to hear the sound?

    August 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. zacharybradyart

    Most anticlimactic thing ever. Also Libby, you kind of sucked at reporting this. We are adults wanting to know about science. Not kindergarten students learning the alphabet. Listen to some Radio Lab or get Neil DeGrasse Tyson to report this kind of thing next time.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. B.

    Wow, after reading these comments I have lost so much confidence in humanity. Where is you sense of imagination. Everyone is so wrapped up in the headline and the reporter that they have no appreciation for the science involved. Sorry it wasn't as entertaining as Access Hollywood or they didn't feed you entertainment like a McDonalds does cheeseburgers. Grown an imagination and shut your lips, or better yet go investigate Kim Kardasians wardrobe and leave the science up to those with a brain.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • gingerygiggles

      What are you talking about? Imagination has nothing to do with this! I came here to hear science! We were lied to! We're a bit pissed!

      August 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • matty e

      maybe when they make an app for this people will care more..

      August 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hyperion

    Where is the soung? They are just taling about something and in the end they are just playing on a keyboard...

    August 22, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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    August 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HeadSlap

    Perhaps, "Reporter Plays D Sharp on a Synthesizer for Ten Seconds" would have been a better title. Great idea, abysmal execution. You might as well add in some little *pew!*pew!* laser-gun sounds for effect.

    August 18, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. YouWastedMyTime

    CNN tards. My time. Promise broken. Recording a repeat of text. Jerks.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joy

    Comments were a better read.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rich Wendel

    Main contradiction on topic: We just passed 50th Anniversary of space project to pick up, 24/7, any, all faint echoes of deep space radio waves. Their report: Nothing. No.Echoes. Now appears activity from March of 2011, and it took 15 months of human activity to share with us? Why can't we see the printout of the original downloaded radio waves. If something is suspect on space info simply go to NASA.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Vidya Kantamneni

    The entire universe sounds like Auuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm (Om)......this was found out some thousands of years earlier and the sounds you showed are just part of this energy. Well, we know the answer and your research will confirm this if it continues some thousands of years... thats the power of God. :)

    August 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Raff

      Don't bring your God shit in here

      August 22, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Raff

      Don't bring your God crap in here

      August 22, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  16. ed

    This piece was actually published *without* a sound - without any synthesized sound based on the light intensity.
    Why did this Miller guy go to all the trouble of explaining that data is like columns of numbers in an Excel spreadsheet, and make the sound metaphor?
    That's CNN for us. What a Joke indeed.
    Libby Lewis should give up.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  17. G.O.

    Our own dying earth, the great ol Earth, makes noises too and it takes no rocket science to know that.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  18. dcoke

    I can hear it! It sounds like... a death knell for a failed theory.
    'Black Holes' in space? Give me a break. Gravity is simply too weak of a force to create any such object.

    August 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ele975

      Yes, because you are an expert in this field and have far more experience as well. And have you EVEN started from scratch when studying black holes? I don't think you have, stupid people say stupid shit but ignorant people like you just postpone our evolution everytime you open your mouth or brain, so please, do us, the rest of mankind, a favor and shut up forever.

      August 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Saint Production

    Reblogged this on saintproduction and commented:
    Just something interesting
    this is the kind of thing i really like. This is so fascinating. 3.9 billion light years. so far we have never seen, just estimations really. Best part. the sounds not picked up by humans.

    August 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Glenn Nelles

    As I watched the marker move closer to the end of the iTunes gauge I got so excited I was going to hear what a star sounded like crashing, and I DID! It sounded a lot like two people talking.

    August 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Frank Mondana

    Sound does travel in space, just like any EM signal. The trick is to have an "ear" big enough to collect the waves.

    August 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fox

      Sound isn't electromagnetic, but mechanical (ex: a chord vibrating, molecules collide, etc.). It needs a physical medium to propagate, and thus, sound cannot travel in a vacuum.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  22. silvanusdavid

    Reblogged this on Renaissance.

    August 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Frank in Pensacola, FL

    See, if the star was like...I dunno...a BIIIIG Beach Ball. And the black hole was like a really mad shark!
    Then imagine your head was this enormous bass drum and when the shark started biting the beach ball if the beach ball could spit water and hit your head (the drum), it would sound like someone tapping softly on the drum....only lots quieter...

    ...cuz the water would get spat from really, really far away and wouldn't be very much per mouthfull (hey, it's a beach ball, ya know!). Plus windage would probably take something off of it.

    So IF it could hit the drum (your head, remember) it wouldn't make much sound. So, the average person probably coudn't hear it. Soooooo we didn't bother trying to record what it would actually sound like.

    But it WOULD be a really, really LOW, gentle kinda sound and it would be wayyyyy cool if you COULD hear it.

    Isn't science aMAYzing?

    August 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Diego

    So basically they made up a sound.

    August 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Sam

    Would have been better if they wouldv said ok here it is and flushed a toilet in the background-hehe

    August 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Illustriuos palustris

    What a waste of my time...never did play the sound but maybe 2 seconds

    August 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Frank in Pensacola, FL

    according to most women, it don't matter where a man speaks – if he speaks at all, he's wrong.
    Better to speak and not tell her... ;-)

    August 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Frank in Pensacola, FL

    yeah, I get that making science interesting for a general audience t'ain't easy.
    But, when you get to the end of your article, where you've guesstimated the end result, and you let the audience down, that's not so interesting, is it?

    Guesstimate differently next time...

    "Since you wouldn't be able to hear it at it's actual pitch, Bob T. Genius from the lab kindly lent us a few minutes worth of data and we scaled the pitch so you could get a sense of the immensity and scale of this galactic event..."

    Cue booming variation in "music" or noise...end of story. Job done.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Rooster Cogburn

    If a man speaks in a forest, where no woman can hear, is he still wrong?

    August 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Frank in Pensacola, FL

    As ridiculous as the journalism was, it got more silly towards the end. They're doing a make-believe transformation of digital representation of light variations (of what their "pretty sure" they've determined is the star being shredded by a big singularity). So, lots of fuzzy guesswork there. Then, to help us "get" the idea of how cool this is, they imagine what it would be like if they transformed it further into sound. Unfortunately, and here is the stupidly silly part, if they did that we couldn't hear it because the direct transformation to an appropriate frequency is too low for human ears. So, major flop and fail for the journalist, AND the brain cases at the lab.

    Get a clue!
    -You're estimating what the signals mean (it MIGHT be a star being shredded, IF you're correct)
    -You're transforming light variation into a numeric record.
    -Then you're guessing what it would sound like.
    -Why not IMAGINE what it would sound like if we COULD hear it.

    Scale the bloody pitch higher (oh, like maybe times 1,000 Hz or more). Play it loud and low. We'll get the idea.

    Then shut up and actually PLAY the "star shredding" music for us to hear. Sheesh – you'd think you took your journalism lessons at the same school as the NBC idiots that talked about anything that came to mind over 99% of every Olympic event

    August 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Everett Wallace

    there is extraterestrial (aliens) life in black holes too so the star did not die.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Swartz

    It is a very interesting topic. It is hard to make science appeals to a large audience and it is good to see you are trying. Keep it up :-).

    August 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  33. StephenHawking

    I got shredded by a supermassive black hole once . . . cost me fifty bucks in New Orleans.

    August 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  34. columbus

    I don't know what you guys are talking about, if you turn your sound up real high, you'll hear the dying star yellingAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I'M GETTING SUCKED INTO A FVCKING BLACK HOLE

    August 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  35. arthur uzo

    CNN is slowly sleeping walking into extinction. Keep making a fool of your audience. Soon you won't have any left.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      Says the genius who is still tuning in.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jim

        So, because he's curious as to the title of the article, you mock him and call him "genius" in a derogatory way? Why??

        August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  36. What the heck

    What the heck? I thought we were supposed to hear the star getting shredded by a black hole, not some guy messing with his keyboard. What a waste of time.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  37. horflig

    now we need the sound of the black hole farting after it ate the star!

    August 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Jeremy

    For christ's sake CNN... what are your requirements for reporters and editors? Do you even require a high school diploma?

    August 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  39. fran

    this guy studies black holes...dunno if thats cool or not

    August 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Peter

    That was dumb. All of that just to turn to a synthesizer playing a spacey sound like any stupid "space music" track. How about you scientists figure out how to feed all the starving people in the world instead of trying to assume what a black hole eating a star sounds like?

    August 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fuck You Peter

      Fuck you, Peter

      August 22, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  41. SixDegrees

    I came here to hear the sound. There's no g-d d-m sound. Eff you.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  42. horflig

    and a Large coke,light on the ice

    August 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  43. horflig

    and fries

    August 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Kingofthenet

    I was hoping the dying 'Star' was going to be Snookie or Kim Kardashian accompanied by a lot of screaming, begging and well more anguish.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  45. horflig

    I need a damn CHEESEBURGER!!!!! NOW

    August 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Al

    CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization. CNN is a deceptive organization.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

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      August 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  47. chris

    The title does seem misleading, however it never implied we cold actually hear it. It's actually more amazing to learn this "sound" is at an octave too low for human ears than if we were to actually hear it. Imagine if they had played the supposed "sound", people would then be criticizing "oh, that's all? what a disappointment". What are you expecting, to hear something that came out of Star Wars? It's science, people! Scientists try their best to keep laymen interested, but in the end it's not for mass consumption.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Patrick


    August 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  49. DLC

    What the heck! It was not cool stringing along a bunch of nerds with fabricated high hopes. Shame on you CNN.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Rod C. Venger

    Actually sound DOES travel through space. Space is not a vacuum as we're told. It's full of matter and there are pressure variances where there is more matter. Could we hear and explosion very close to us if we were in orbit overhead? Not with our ears, no, but sensitive audio instruments could. A sound wave traveling outward in a spherical shape would be full of holes, like swiss cheese, where no atoms were present to interact with the wave. But those atoms that were affected would then interact with others, and that's enough to produce a sound. There are a lot of misconceptions about space. Space has a smell! The smell is reportedly due to ionized atoms. If there are enough atoms to produce a quite strong and distinctive smell, then there's anout atoms to propagate a sound wave, albeit weakly. During the days of Spacelab, an experiment was carried out with the equivalent of a zip gun. a specially sealed .22 short round was fired through a rifled barrel in space and the resulting velocity was measured at ~180 fps, or roughly 1/5th what a .22 short would travel at on earth. How can this be without oxygen in space? It's pretty simple: Besides the fact that the smokeless power used in modern bullets contain carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, there's also the oxygen filling the space between the power within the casing and the base of the bullet. The "special seal" prevented that oxygen from outgassing. The mechanism strikes the rim of the case, which sets off the fulminate of mercury which is turn ignites the powder. The powder burns because the bullet is sealing the barrel behind the bullet, propelling it forward as the gasses expand. The loss of velocity is due to the fact that the breech did not have a perfect seal so most of the gasses were lost to space rather than expanding behind the bullet and pushing it forward. Guns shoot! Or at least specially designed ones do. I think it'd be interesting to do more advances experiments. It'd be interesting to shoot at a target say, 200 miles away, firing perpendicular to the earth, recording both the muzzle velocity, the terminal velocity as well as the change in trajectory due to nothing but gravity. Without drag from the atmosphere or wind pushing at the bullet, I'd think that there arms would be extremely accurate, not to mention deadly. A spaceborne "enemy" could be taken out with a 180 grain slug. Who needs lasers, phasers or photon torpedos?

    August 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smart

      Hey Rod, you're pretty dumb!

      August 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Josh

    someone please flag this article as inappropriate

    August 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  52. TIm Slevensky

    CNN = FAIL. Please fire the editor that was in charge of this article.

    August 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Eric

    Wow, what a lame article "We can't hear those frequencies... BUT IMAGINE IF YOU COULD!". Goodbye CNN radio, hello NPR!

    August 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      There should have been a VO in the middle of the segment that says "What you are hearing now should have been edited in the final version...!"

      August 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Daniel

    Less talking please if you are going to have that knid of headline.

    August 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  55. APG

    FUCK CNN, bunch of pussy liberals...

    August 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • cacalips

      LOL your brains the size of a chick pea

      August 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Joe

    I got sucked in by that headline also.

    August 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thugvon

      Oh that kind of star, thought it was Justin Bieber...one can only wish

      August 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  57. CalDude

    sound? what sound?

    August 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  58. rockney

    Noodle this ... that sun was devoured by the black hole shortly after Theia hit Earth and formed the Moon.

    August 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  59. FAIL

    FAIL FAIL FAIL. Man we have Rovers on mars. You can't get a planet size microphone orbit it around a black hole and record. How do they know it makes a sound if we can't hear the frequency? WHAT THEY HAD LASSIE BARK ONCE FOR YES. Most of all. DON'T HEADLINE IT WANT TO HEAR A DYING STAR THEN SAY YOU CAN'T HEAR IT. JUST LET ME LIVE WITH MY DREAMS STOP BLACK HOLING MY DREAMS.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • RS

      Our ears can't hear the frequency. Do you think just because our eyes can't see infrared waves means they don't exist? Sensors we create such as cameras can pick up such energy. Or as the scientist in the audio file stated, we can program computers to decipher such data into numbers so we can picture exactly what we're looking at (or hearing in this case). We can create all kinds of sensors to pick up different types of electromagnetic radiation.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  60. matt

    The ultimate anti-clmax! You want to hear what a dying star sounds like? Well you can't because our ears are unable to distinguish that frequency. So no...we don't, in fact get to hear what a dying star sounds like. And we only find this out AT THE VERY LAST SECOND of this piece. uh....fail.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lysa

      Very well said Matt......I'm very disappointed by the misleading delivery of this article!!!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      Fail? They got you to do what they wanted you to do, read the article. The information you were looking for was low on their list of priorites

      August 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • Din

        Matt i agree with you. Article was misleading atleast the heading and at the same time scientist was saying sound doesn't travel the space

        August 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Craig

    Like politics, the article's title is very deceptive and shouldn't be in print. Little education, lots of fraud

    August 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  62. WhereIsPalin

    After reading the headline, I thought this would be a story about Palin.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Very good and appropriate comment. So funny now that some gopers are finally admitting that putting sarah in position to be a heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world was maybe a mistake. Duh, do ya think? Is Ryan any better? I hope so because Romney can't cut it and the dems need more good competition. Actually we should clear out most all current politicians just like Notre Dame did and like the catholic church should!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobby Brown

      I was thinking Whitney Houston.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Devman

    I just wasted 2 minutes of my life reading whining from other folks who wasted time in their life to post complaining about an article that I thought was pretty cool. Wait I just wasted more time posting this...

    August 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Jay

    This was a STUPID waste. I thought i was going to hear something interesting. Instead I listen to a long interview and told to IMAGINE it?

    August 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • SnafuBob

      @Jay – Momma always said stupid is as stupid does, I think you can figure the rest out...

      August 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Say it louder

    Ill save you the time start it at 4:00 there ya go.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      This is ridiculous, at no point in the program do we actually get to hear the sound of a dying star, ridiculous

      August 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Brian

    so – a dying star sounds like 5 minutes of interviewing an astronomer, who likens it to simply octave step-downs on a synthesizer? Wow. How clever and original – we'd never have assumed that.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Robert-in-Austin

    Will this be a recording of Madonna singing Happy Birthday to herself.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • texcal68

      If you don't have something worth saying, why comment.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  68. bob

    I know what Uranus sounds like.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  69. judge

    I was hoping the headline was about Snookie.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Joe

    If you people were smart like I am, you'd look at the wave form and just skip to the end where it is obvious that it is playing a sound instead of endless yammering.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Spendlove

    Who is Libby and why is she talking?

    August 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Kaleb

    So where's the sound file?

    August 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Joe

    Dying stars say "CNN" ????

    August 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  74. keyser

    I great story and a novel one too.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Eric X

    CNN: the tab on your home page reads, "Listen to dying star." Please change it. Perhaps to, "Radio interview regarding dying star 'noise'."

    The tab-line is so misleading, I'm not sure where to begin.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Laura S.

    To the "you can't hear sounds in space" arm-chair astronomers: the title of the article clearly stated: Listen ot the sound of a dying star. So we came in, downloaded the stupid file and listened to a guy talk. You want people care about crap like this? Then present it properly.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Dumb Article

    what a dumb article and waste of time.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve intexas

      Someone took time out of their busy day to tell us this article is dumb. There's some positive thinking for you.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Darn

    Who else came here hoping for an article on Kim Kardashian?

    August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gnormie

      nobody...the title said "star"

      August 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Hey Darn, good one. Kim just might be saved from the black hole for a while but not in eternity. You can imagine the black whole originally gets fooled by her face and begins to suck her in only to find her ass and hips are too big to make it through the black hole keeping her butt up for 1,134 light years before the whole somebitchin hole blows and ya gotta cross yo fingers what it blows out don't hit Earth!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  79. John Wayne

    It would appear that the fact that sound does not travel across space comes as news to many here!

    August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Chris R

    Let's a get a couple things straight for the peanut gallery.

    First, you'd never be able to hear this sound in the first place because space is filled with vacuum which means you *cannot* transmit any sound. So if you were expecting to hear the actual sound of a star's death you don't know much about the world around you and shoudl probably head back to the entertainment section.

    Second, the sound has an incredibly low frequency – too low for you to hear it even if you could get past the whole "no one can hear in space" thing to begin with. What the astronomer did say is that the closest sound it comes to is a D#. So play a D# and then drop the octave 16 times. That's the sound of this dying star. Or you can just say "hey, I can't hear it but I can use my imagination to understand what it must be like". That's what scientists do when they work on things like this. If you *don't* like that idea then, once again, head back to the entertainment section. I don't know what you were expecting – horrific screaming and tearing sounds with gigantic whoomps like you see in the movies?

    Third, for the numbskulls who think that CNN should only report on news that personally interests them. Get over yourself. If you don't like what they are writing about here go start your own news service. I won't even suggest you head to entertainment section – the celebrities probably aren't wearing enough tin foil hats t make you happy anyway.

    I hope this cleared up some of the confusion some readers are experiencing.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      BRAVO and " Well Done" Chris.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaggieJS

      Thank you, Chris! Well put.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      While your point is valid, you come across as very condescending. Unfortunately, explaining things in such a manner as this is more likely to put those you are addressing on the defensive rather than hear your point.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Actually, space is not filled with vacuum. Vacuum is the absence of matter and energy.You can't fill something with something that is, by definition, empty. Vacuum is something you fill, not something you fill something else with.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      "I don't know what you were expecting – horrific screaming and tearing sounds with gigantic whoomps like you see in the movies?" Of course not. However there is a way. All you need is a radio. Well, not exactly a radio, but the idea is the same. You have the digital representation of what was received, right? So, convert it to analog, multiply it by a factor necessary to get it into the range of human hearing, and there you have it. It's been done before.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      God luv ya' Chris! I read blog replies all the time, but never bother to register so I can respond. This time it was worth it. Your reply is spot on!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Chris there is no one who needs to head back to the entertainment section more than you. Putting your thoughts public could get you into an institution so I suggest you stop!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Everybody Ever

    I was expecting to hear Lindsay Lohan

    August 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Minerva from Los Angeles, CA

    So Libby Lewis, you made us sit thru your entire conversation on a busy day, expectantly waiting to hear the sound of a star swallowed up by a black hole – such a major thrill in the universe – just to give us a few piano and synthesizer notes and tell us that the frequencies were too low for us to hear???!!! What was low was your build-up and let-down. A low blow and a waste of time! Don't hype up WHAT YOU CANNOT DELIVER. I GAVE YOU A PIECE OF MY LIFE TO HEAR THIS AND GOT RIPPED OFF!

    August 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      You do understand that science fiction movies are *not* documentaries right?

      August 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Rich

    I thought the article was about David Spade

    August 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Scott

    Darn. When I clicked on the headline, I was hoping the dying star would be Susan Sarandon or Tim Robbins.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • texcal68

      Please go away!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Oscar Pitchfork

    CNN retards at work, again. The black hole is what is LEFTOVER after a star (a big enough one) collapses in on itself after a supernova.It's not EATING the star. I guess being technically illiterate is what you have to be to make a story attractive to all the thick-lipped readers CNN assumes are out there. These are also the source of Gamma-ray bursts: a nearly linear discharge of almost all gamma and xray frequency EMF created when all the mass infalls and is annihilated by gravity. How much? About 100 earth-masses per second, that's about 12 million, quadrillion megatons of energy released every second, pretty much as an xray laser. If it was any closer than a few hundreds of ight years away, it would incinerate the Earth.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jhera

      If you listened to the interview, you would know that this is the case of two stars – one which collapsed and is now a black hole and another being destroyed by the nearby black hole.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      You do understand that black holes do 'devour' stars that wanders within the event horizon, right? That's what they are talking about a star that has around 1 solar mass falling into super massive galactic black hole – not the initial collapse. Did you even listen to the sound clip?

      August 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I have thick lips and the 26th-highest IQ testing results ever recorded in the United States. I'm white, but do have thick lips.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Space - the Final frontier

      ...sounds like somebody watched "The Know Universe" last night on PBS??? Good memory retention !!

      August 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • doabitofhomework

      The "sound" referred to is NOT what you say it was. It was not the sound of the dying star that made the black hole. It was the sound of ANOTHER star colliding with it and being eaten by it. And please don't think that "eaten" means the black hole has teeth, okay? It approached the black hole, but couldn't really collide with it, using OUR concept of a collision, at any rate. Instead, it got absorbed, sucked in, into the "singularity" of the black hole, which is analogous to being "eaten" by it. Nothing can escape from a black hole. Not even light. And a whole star, though it looks huge compared to the black hole itself, is actually very tiny, because the black hole is the gravitational equivalent of the star or stars that created it, which is oftentimes the gravitational equivalent of the combined masses of hundreds or even millions of other stars. Some black holes could be the size of a basketball, yet contain as much gravitation from the mass it gobbled as we have in the entire solar system. That's rather compact, to say the least. If it sound too outrageous to be true, it's because you haven't studied these phenomena. They are proven to be very real indeed. How they got that way is what you'd need to learn about.

      The star being eaten then becomes a part of the black hole itself, adding yet more mass to it. Which makes it even easier to draw in more mass, more stars.

      I've known most of my life that sounds can't be transmitted in space. I wasn't expecting to hear the real sound, especially of something THAT far away. But space is NOT "full of vacuum." It is full of...NOTHING AT ALL! Except that it is not total vacuum, since there are molecules that are found throughout the cosmos, even in the areas that seem to be emptiest. Still it's effectively NOTHING for purposes other than scientific ones, where they may need to know of such minuscule quantities of matter in space. If a cube of space, 100 miles squared, has 50 molecules in it, it's still a vacuum, for the most part.

      To get a true sound, you need an ATMOSPHERE. Only with one can sound waves be HEARD. The sound waves can pass through a vacuum, but without receptors keyed to it, nothing is heard. Our ears are our receptors, but they depend on air to make the eardrum vibrate, so we can hear. No eardrums, no sound is perceived. No air, and eardrums are useless to us.

      Nor could an atmosphere be placed around this particular drama. People have no remote idea how FAR this event is from us, and even less of an idea of how HUGE this black hole/star combination truly are. When anyone learns about astronomy, he has to gear up his mind in order to come close to comprehending the sizes and distances involved. It doesn't come to people automatically. Even then, it still remains difficult to wrap our minds around the magnitude of our cosmos. For the average person, it's not even possible to grasp what kind of distance a light year really IS. The more a person approaches some form of true comprehension, the more awe he feels. The "gee-whiz" factor doesn't need to be imposed on him; it's inevitable, actually.

      What I was expecting to "hear" is what the scientists think it might have sounded like IF there were a way to receive and reproduce the sounds it made. The sounds would be huge, of course; any activity on that kind of scale would be horrific sounding – if it could be heard. They'd have to drastically cut down the volume, too, because trying to reproduce the true volume to anyone – including themselves – would actually kill people. Fortunately, there's no way any technology can do that. If you think no amount of sound can kill, you'd be very wrong.

      I expected them to have synthesized the sound from their data. If it was too low in the subsonic range for human ears to hear it, they'd have had to bring it up enough octaves so that we could hear it. There would be no other way to do it, but they didn't. To claim it is equivalent to D# can't be true. There would have to be many other kinds of sound involved. I couldn't even hear what they offered, because NoScript blocked it as a suspected clickjacking.

      It isn't the octave range of the sound that we'd want to hear, but its texture and variations. It could hardly be called "music," you know. Which, I imagine, would very likely be highly crackling, sputtering and spurting sounds, and booming. Sounds imitating a collision could not be generated, since the collision itself was totally absorbed, sound and all, by the black hole. It's the sputtering of the dying star being eaten at the edges of the black hole, just before it is engulfed, that would be made audible from data. The remaining part of the star, the part that hasn't yet been absorbed, would surely be generating sounds as it was being totally disrupted. These sounds would have no serious scientific value that I know of now – but maybe in the future it might, who can say? Remember that, if light waves can't escape the gravitation of a black hole, neither can sound waves.

      A black hole is formed when a star collapses on itself in the act of dying. It explodes first, in a nova. Most of its substance is blown away. The rest re-collapses, very violently, into a compact mass again. Our sun will nova and collapse, but there won't be enough mass to make a black hole; it will collapse into a white dwarf – very, VERY dense, but not even close to the density of a black hole. It takes a dying star whose collapsed mass is a MINIMUM of 3.5 times the mass of our sun, to form a black hole. (That's not counting the mass that blew off in the preceding nova.) That 3.5 times our sun's mass would produce a black hole, but only a small one; many black holes are enormously more massive than that.

      If the collapse has enough mass, it will be unable to STOP the collapse. The collapse will drive electrons into their nuclei, and nuclei into one another, and STILL keep collapsing until the mass of the star is virtually GONE from our universe, leaving behind it only its gravitation. Which, by that time, is unspeakably huge. Some black holes are formed from only one star's collapse. Other black holes accumulate many stars' masses into themselves. The galactic center has many gargantuan black holes with gravitation equivalent to the millions of stars they've gobbled up over their existence. This one appears to be one like that, but not in our own galaxy; it is near the limit of our observational skills to detect. Much further, and we wouldn't know it existed, because the speed of things receding from us is greater, the more distant the object is. When that speed of receding exceeds the speed of light, we can never detect it, ever. The only way any black hole can be detected is NOT by seeing the hole itself, but by observing the effect it has on the things near it. Things which are not – yet – a part of the black hole. They do seem detectable by observing the gravitational fields they have, though. But I'm not familiar with the technology of how they do it.

      Black holes are very, very weird things. They are "gravitational wells," which every object in space has. Every object in space (including Earth and Moon) can be imagined as sitting on a rubber sheet. The more massive they are, the bigger the dent they make in the sheet. Every object in space has such a "gravity well." The well is bigger for bigger objects – they sink into the rubber sheet deeper. In a black hole, the gravity well has been bent 360 degrees, and the object it once was has "winked out" of the universe – except for its gravitation, which is enormous, even in the smaller ones.

      It seems that the point of the article was to help the average person gain some idea of the magnitude of the event, even though it happened billions of years ago and more billions of light years away from us. They were trying to give us some concept of the reality of it, but did an abysmally lousy job of it.

      Hope this will provide a bit more info for those interested in having it. Isaac Asimov and Stephen Hawking have written easy to understand articles and books about black holes, that explain them much better than I can, though – look up their writings. The more you learn of them, the more black holes become real mind-benders. Fascinating stuff.

      August 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  86. DDNB

    And here I was waiting for them to take the Signal'd EMF frequencies, adjusted to audio frequencies (You can remodulate RF energy into audible frequencies, look up the sounds of the planets for examples of this) and then played. Instead we got this article that was interesting, if a bit misleading. Do I have a better name for it right now? Not really. I'm just saying, you run the risk of having a misleading article name here.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  87. D

    You can't hear anything in space... you were taught that in grade school – no air, no sound. Stop complaining about a bad article. Stop being an ignorant American! And you, ipmutt – what the heck are you talking about? bla bla bla...

    August 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      If you're going to rant and call other people ignorant, at least know what you're talking about. Yes, you CAN hear things in space. For you see, most things in space generate low level radio signals. And guess what .... We can receive them and convert them into sound waves. You can even hear our own Sun.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  88. netninja

    If a Star dies in the Galaxy can you hear it? I guess not it's beyond our range of hearing.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  89. ipmutt

    boy I needed this. So here we go with diversion reorting by mainstream media. See if you can find the story of Obama's administration charged with Abuse again? This is a case like we see so often in liberal politics where the normal rules of morality do not apply to liberals' Like with Clinton, Holder, Napoliana and others , it is OK to rape, take advantage of kids, kill and abuse, if your guy is liberal too.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter


      August 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • your mom

      Seriously you're dense

      August 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      It's amazing how even one of the most innocent and non-opinionated articles on the Internet can still attract ridiculous people (and obvious trolls) who attempt to turn everything into some sort of partisan debate. Why do we do this? I guess because of the "anonymity."

      I recently confided to my young children that the vast majority of comments online are nothing but irrelevant bickering and pointless flame wars. I suppose it's human nature, and you just have to filter it all out. Maybe someday we'll find more productive ways of communicating with strangers in the modern age.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • Greg

        And also, "replies" don't seem to work properly on this comment thread. In case it wasn't obvious, I was talking to you, @ipmutt.

        August 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • darkstar

      Please be gone conspiracy theorist. There are other things that go on in the Universe besides all the voices inside your head.

      August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • doabitofhomework

      You're WAY off-topic. You're spamming your hate. And, like the ignorant-and-proud set, you are a fine example of Red State thought. (I use the term "thought" quite loosely, as people can probably tell.)

      Diversion tactics? Uh...how? Aren't people allowed to think of or read of things other than your own political hate? We are humans, which means we really CAN multi-task. We can be interested in science AND politics. I guess you can't, and think everyone is like you that way. Or that "they'd better be" like you. When you learn that they are not, you get mad. They owe it to you to be as ignorant as you are. Scientists know more than you do – that's an insult, so you've got to hate them, right?

      It all points to one thing: an inadequate personality. You COULD do many things to become more adequate, but you're lazy and in love with your hate, so you make a virtue of everything and everyone who is ignorant. If you were JUST inadequate, I could sympathize and hope you find ways to mature your mind. But since you prefer hate, you only gain my disgust.

      And people like this actually have a right to vote. Scary.

      August 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Cherie

    I just sat through 5 minutes of this only to be told in the last few seconds that humans wouldn't be able to hear it. What a waste of my time.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • me too


      August 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  91. mike

    Well it was interesting information, but there was nothing in terms of the "sound" of a dying star that was worthy of the title of this article. What a teaser headline, and a waste of my time.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  92. What a joke

    CNN, instead of making everyone to waste five minutes of their lives, why not just write in the article, "oh by the way, you can't hear it anyway".

    The quality of this piece of article is on par with that of an infomercial.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trent

      What part of "There is no sound in space" is confusing you people? It's very simple. If you came to this article and are disapointed that you didn't get to hear sounds in space, then you need to have your head examined or you need to take a children's course in astronomy.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lysa

        "he and his team translated the frequency of the signals they captured in all those numbers into a sound".....
        We were waiting to hear this spectacular translation....We're not looking to "hear sounds in space". We're looking for the promised translation here on Earth duh

        August 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Lara Nash

    That was amazing!! I wish we could hear the lower frequencies.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |

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