Supernova Sonata
May 26, 2011 12:09 AM   Subscribe

Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova (called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf stars. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played: The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter. The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale. The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
posted by ThenCameNow (10 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I think the God-as-Watchmaker people have it right: why would he bother with us when he's got those sights to see and the violent, catastrophic deaths of stars to hear?
posted by Slackermagee at 12:13 AM on May 26, 2011

He can troll us.
posted by orthogonality at 12:21 AM on May 26, 2011

I wonder what kind of sound result does one get from random sampling, as compared with this?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:33 AM on May 26, 2011

The Universe is Jazz.
posted by bwg at 1:09 AM on May 26, 2011

"Now Trurl could appear in public again and breathe easy. True, lately there had been supernovae exploding on the southern horizon, the like of which no one had ever seen before, and there were rumors that this had something to do with poetry. According to one report, that same ruler, moved by some strange whim, had ordered his astroengineers to connect the electronic bard to a constellation of white supergiants, thereby transforming each line of verse into a stupendous solar prominence; thus the Greatest Poet in the Universe was able to transmit its thermonuclear creations to all the illimitable reaches of space at once. But even if there were any truth to this, it was all too far away to bother Trurl, who vowed by everything that was ever held sacred never, never again to make a cybernetic model of the Muse."
- The First Sally, the Cyberiad, Stanislaw Lem
posted by kaibutsu at 2:11 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

And here I was thinking supernovas were an uncommon event to view from earth. Universeview crushed again! Thanks for the great link.
posted by pashdown at 5:47 AM on May 26, 2011

You expect something like a couple a century per galaxy, but not all of these will be Ia supernovae - you expect more like one a century. In our galaxy the last one we know of was about 400 years ago (Kepler's). So says the nice supernova chap in the next office.
posted by edd at 6:34 AM on May 26, 2011

Since this is based on a couple phenomenon with are all likely to be distributed on a power curve and then was translated into musical conventions rather than pure noise, I suspect feeding pure random numbers to this algorithm would be less interesting.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:34 AM on May 26, 2011

If by view you mean see with the naked eye - yes, amazingly so. If by view you mean see a bunch in a few hundred thousand galaxies using a very powerful telescope over the course of three or so years, not so much.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:03 AM on May 26, 2011

Wasn't the whole "music of the spheres" thing supposed to be metaphorical? Damn universe, you scary.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2011

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