There may not be sound in space, but there are apparently "songs."
After the Rosetta spacecraft landed its Philae probe on Comet 67P earlier this week, most of us the focus was on the first images until the European Space Agency released "mysterious" audio that the comet was "singing into space."
Rosetta's Plasma Consortium principal investigator Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier wrote about the discovery on the ESA blog, which he says took the scientists by surprise.
"This is exciting because it is completely new to us," he says. "We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening."
The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased by a factor of about 10,000.
The music was heard clearly by the magnetometer experiment (RPC-Mag) for the first time in August, when Rosetta drew to within 100 km of 67P/C-G. The scientists think it must be produced in some way by the activity of the comet, as it releases neutral particles into space where they become electrically charged due to a process called ionisation. But the precise physical mechanism behind the oscillations remains a mystery.
Oh, and here's the remix!