Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Jupiter emissions sound like the stuff of nightmares © NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Jupiter emissions sound like the stuff of nightmares

Published: 11th October, 2016 at 14:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

As Halloween approaches, Juno scientists release audio of Jupiter aurora that sounds like a wraith death choir straight from the depths of Hell.

Sound doesn’t travel well in space, but you can be sure that the powerful aurora that surrounds Jupiter will make one hell of a noise if you have the right tools to listen to them, which is exactly what a team of scientists from the University of Iowa have attached to the Juno space probe.


The device, called Waves, measures the radio waves emitted by the powerful emissions, and when they are “downshifted” to the audio range and sped up so that multiple hours of measurements can be converted into listenable audio, the results are, well, terrifying! Take a listen to this devilish choir of sonic doom below:

There is a reason for freaking the pants off of us with such fearsome noise - the scientists want to find out how electrons and ions accelerate along the magnetic field lines of Jupiter before they collide with the atmosphere creating the beautiful aurora. They can do this by measuring plasma waves along the planet’s magnetic field lines every time Juno makes a pass around the planet.

Bill Kurth, co-investigator for Waves, likens this plasma to a stringed instrument: "If you pluck a string on a violin, the string vibrates. The vibrating string is like the plasma itself; in the plasma it is the charged particles that are moving."

By converting these waves into the audio range, the team are able to create something of a soundtrack of the plasma’s significant moments.

So will this spooky science go mainstream? "We like to listen to them,” says Kurth. “We figure if we like to listen to them, others will too."


Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Flipboard


Alexander McNamaraOnline Editor, BBC Science Focus

Alexander is the former Online Editor at BBC Science Focus.


Sponsored content