The question of whether or not a sound can be heard in space has been discussed for a long time, and it’s an interesting topic to consider.
The idea of hearing sounds in space is something that we have all probably thought about at some point.
We know that the Earth vibrates when there are earthquakes, and we also know that this vibration travels through the air as waves.
When these waves reach our ears they cause us to hear different types of sounds.
But does sound work like this in space, too? Read on to find out whether we can hear sound in space.
How Does Sound Work On Earth?
To answer the question of whether sound can travel in space, we first need to understand what exactly sound is and how it works.
For this, we can take a look at how sound works here on earth.
Sound is the result of vibrations that occur within matter, for example, in our vocal cords.
These vibrations create pressure changes within the surrounding air which causes air particles to move around.
This movement creates sound waves and these waves travel through the air.
This means that if you were standing next to a speaker playing music, then you would feel the vibrations from the music traveling through your body.
If you use your vocal cords to produce a sound, the sound waves are picked up by a listener, who will hear them and process in his brain what has been said.
How Does Sound Work In Space?
This is how sound works on earth, but how does sound work in space?
Unlike on earth, there is no air or any other medium in space where the sound waves could travel through.
You may now say that gas clouds or dust are traveling through space. That’s correct.
Sound could travel through these particles but our ears still wouldn’t be able to pick these sounds up.
They would be too high or low a frequency for our ears to perceive them.
Can You Hear Sound In Space?
Now let’s think about how sound works in space. There are many theories on whether sound can be heard in space.
One theory imagines a planet floating in space. This planet is surrounded by an atmosphere, similar to earth’s atmosphere.
And because the atmosphere is so thin, we can assume that any vibrations created by sound will only travel very short distances before being lost.
So, although sound waves could theoretically travel through space, we wouldn’t be able to hear them.
However, the majority of scientists believe that this sound “emitted” by planets is rather the planets’ emission picked up by sensitive instruments.
These emissions aren’t sound but they are just processed audible signals which have been processed by the scientists, so we can hear them.
The myth of hearing sound in space has been very persistent thanks to sound effects in space movies.
We all remember the “swoosh” sounds of a spaceship when it travels through space in a film but this is just an impressive effect to make the film more interesting.
In reality, we would never be able to hear this sound outside the spaceship because there is simply no air in outer space where the sound could travel.
You may be able to hear sounds inside the spaceship but, again, these would not be the sound made by the exterior of the spacecraft in space.
What’s The Difference Between Sound And Light Waves In Space?
Although light and sound all come together for us to create a picture of our world here on earth, light waves and sound waves in space are very different.
Unlike sound waves, light waves don’t need air or any other medium to travel.
These waves can travel through the vacuum of space without hitting any resistance.
This is lucky for us as it enables us to see distant stars and galaxies many billions of years away.
Over the past centuries, we have also developed the right technology to see into space.
In comparison, the development of instruments to hear sounds in space is vastly lagging behind.
Together with the fact that sound doesn’t travel in space but maybe captured on occasion, it’s almost impossible to hear anything from outer space.
Why We Sometimes Do Receive Sound From Space
Saying this, NASA has picked up sounds from other planets in the past.
This is still a widely discussed phenomenon and the opinions of scientists are divided on this.
In the early 1990s, NASA published a large report on space sounds.
The five volumes mentioned a whole range of different sounds on different planets.
However, they didn’t mention any details on how these sounds were made.
Since then, scientists have discovered that the sounds NASA picked up did not come from the planets.
The sounds were a result of the interactions between charged particles in the magnetic atmosphere of the planets.
These electromagnetic disturbances were picked up by NASA’s sensitive instruments and then turned into sounds.
This process is similar to the workings of a radio.
Radio picks up radio waves from the radio stations nearby and then turns these into sound signals.
There are a few other occurrences when NASA picked up noise from outer space.
One of the more famous reports of sound in space was when one team of the Apollo moon missions heard “music” while they were orbiting the Moon.
It turns out that this wasn’t music but radio frequency interference between the command modules and the lunar module.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get your last-minute queries answered here!
What Type Of Wave Is Sound?
Sound is a type of wave called a pressure wave. It is created by vibrations within matter.
When you clap your hands, you produce a pressure wave that moves through the air.
Do Planets Make Sounds In Space?
No, planets don’t make sounds in space.
However, sometimes sensitive scientific instruments pick up the sounds caused by the interaction of charged particles in the planet’s magnetosphere.
Does Sound Travel Faster In Space?
As sound doesn’t travel at all in space, sound cannot travel faster in space.
Outer space has no air and this vacuum means that no sound waves can vibrate through space.
What Is Sound In Space Called?
When sound travels through a medium like water or air, it is known as acoustic waves.
But when sound travels through the vacuum of space, it is known as an elastic wave.
What Is The Loudest Sound In Space Called?
NASA has previously wrongly reported sounds in space, and called them “space roar”.
These weren’t actual sounds or noises as we would call them on earth.
These particular sounds were caused by the movement of charged particles in the Earth’s magnetic field.
Sound in space is not just a movie effect but it inspires our imagination to consider that one day we may hear a sound from another civilization in space.
However, we have seen that sound does not travel in space and that we will not be able to hear the sound of a spacecraft when it silently glides through space.
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