Did the universe just hum?2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
There is so much happening in the space at all times— stars are collapsing, blackholes are getting lost, and planets are exploding. Each instance sends a ripple through the universe, and these ripples, called gravitational waves, have a sound!
If you are thinking this sound is a resounding bellow, a loud thud or an ear shattering screech, you are quite off the mark! Because the sound of the universe is a hum.
Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
Did you know that the sound of the Big Bang Theory was not a bang but a hum?
We know this because of a physicist at the University of Washington named John Cramer. He got some data from a satellite sent to investigate the Big Bang. The data was converted by a computer to the sound of the Bang. It turned out to be so low that it was inaudible to humans!
While the sound of the bang was low in volume, it travelled across the universe for hundreds of years.
Scientists had always predicted that these waves would sound like a resonant hum but a signal picked up at the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves might prove this prediction.
Researchers cannot study waves the way they study stars and galaxies, with a telescope. Instead, they can study these waves by observing the tiny shifts in the precise position of the objects of the space.
For this study, the scientists focused on pulsar stars. Pulsar stars are small and dense stars that rotate rapidly emitting radio waves. Radio telescopes were used to collect this data which also included the signal for the hum.
While a single pulsar may not have been sufficient to arrive at a conclusion, the Nanogrov has been studying 45 of Milkyway’s most stable pulsars.
The scientists have not detected the gravitational waves background yet but they have collected a common noise signal with similar characteristics across pulsars.
This could very well be the sound of the gravitational wave!
The word sound is a little tricky to use here as space does not really have a sound! Sound travels in air and most of space has no air. So what we are calling sound is in fact the background hum of the universe.
This gravitational wave background can open up new possibilities for the world, maybe even disclosing parts of Earth’s origin!
But even though the scientists can strongly rule out some known noise sources, they cannot yet say whether the signal is indeed from gravitational waves.
To that end, new technology is being created at the Nanogrov