Fiorella Terenzi is an Italian-born astrophysicist and composer currently based in the United States. She earned her Ph.D in physics from the University of Milan, and studied music composition at the Conservatorio G. Verdi, also in Milan. She is a pioneer of techniques to represent radio signals from galaxies as sound, and is perhaps best known for her CD Music from the Galaxies.
Music from the Galaxies is an amazing CD featuring music based on radio signals from the galaxy UGC 6697, seen in the center of this image (http://dso-browser.com/dso/info/UGC/6697). UGC 6697 is a member of the Leo Cluster of galaxies, which is located approximately 330 million light-years from Earth. To create the music in Music from the Galaxies, Terenzi used computer processing techniques to transform radio telescope signals from UGC 6697 into the range of human hearing. This technique of representing data through sound is known as sonification (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonification), and allows us to in a sense “hear” the galaxy.
A YouTube video of a short selection from Music from the Galaxies can be found here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkCfXZN8KnY). The selection at first may sound more like noise than music. However, if you listen closely, you might notice that the galactic sounds outline a sort of disjunct “space melody.” Once you recognize the melody, try listening a little more closely, and you will find that the galactic sounds create rhythmic patterns as well. As you listen, let your imagination run wild – after all, you are listening to sounds from a galaxy hundreds of millions of light years from Earth!
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