Scientists accidentally stumble upon the secret sounds of stars (too bad we can't hear it)

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Mar 24, 2015, 4:27 PM EDT (Updated)

They may look nice and pretty from our limited view all the way down here on Earth, but it’s easy to forget stars are actually gigantic, ultra-hot volatile balls of fire. Turns out, they also make their own beautiful, secret sounds.

A team of researchers accidentally stumbled upon the acoustic discovery that is our first indication of the sounds stars might actually make. Sadly, they’re at a frequency 6 million times higher than what we can hear, so you won’t be jamming a Stars atmospheric mix anytime soon. But we at least know they do make noise.

The team made the discovery while analyzing the effect of an ultra-intense laser on plasma. According to Popular Science, “just a trillionth of a second after the laser strikes, the plasma disperses quickly, moving from areas of high density to areas of low density.” But that fast movement causes the plasma to build up between high- and low-density areas, which causes volatility.

When all that starts colliding, it generates sound waves at a frequency at approximately 1 trillion hertz. For the sake of comparison, humans can only hear 20,000 hertz, and animals (bats, dolphins, etc.) top out at 100,000 hertz. There’s also the fact that those sounds are being made in the vacuum of space, when it happens on a star. So yeah, those sounds are out there, but we’d never have found them otherwise.

Here’s how Dr. Alex Robinson from the Plasma Physics Group at STFC’s Central Laser Facility explained it to the University of York:

“It was initially hard to determine the origin of the acoustic signals, but our model produced results that compared favourably with the wavelength shifts observed in the experiment. This showed that we had discovered a new way of generating sound from fluid flows. Similar situations could occur in plasma flowing around stars.”

Score one for science. Now we’ll just have to live with the perpetual mystery that we’ll never actually be able to hear the infinite sound of the cosmos. Sigh.

(Via Popular Science)