Our project Deep Space Musical which creates a Musical of our Universe using some of the Iconic images from the Hubble Space Telescope won 2 awards at the NASA SpaceApps Challenge Toronto 2018. It became the global nominee from Toronto to the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2018 and won the People’s Choice Award. We won the SpaceApps Toronto in 2017 too!
NASA Space Apps is an international hackathon that occurs over 48 hours in over 170 cities in 70 countries around the world. In Toronto, the competition was organised by Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS Canada) at the Ryerson University.
We are fascinated by space, science, technology, and love to combine our passion with other subjects including arts and music. So this year we used our collective imagination to come with a project which is multidisciplinary. The Hubble Space Telescope was lately in the news as its gyroscopes have been failing (though they seem to have started working again!). Nevertheless, the contributions of the 28 years old Hubble Space Telescope (launched in 1990) in low Earth orbit to look at our universe have been immense.
From the Eyes of Hubble Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope has made over 1.3 million observations of objects near and far such as planets, exoplanets, stars, global clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. We decided to look at the universe from the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope. And the Telescope has seen it all – from the birth of stars (Pillars of Creation) to galaxies of stars (Hubble Ultra Deep Field), and the violent end of stars (Supernova 1987A).
It has looked at the Pillars of Creation (the Eagle Nebula) where new stars are being formed. And taken the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image in the field of view of Fornax Constellation to peer at some of the oldest galaxies – 13 billion light years away. It has also looked at many SuperNovae which signal the death of stars. Through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope we have got a much better understanding of our universe.
Transforming Images into Music
We took some of the iconic actual colour images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Red Green Blue values of the image was converted into Gray Scale. The Gray Scale value of the image were put into the matrix and flattened through programming. The matrix was then transformed through calculations so that its values would range between lower and higher frequencies of the musical notes. We then used the PyMusic library to convert these values into musical notes.
Open Source Project: Programming / Coding
The programming of this project was done in Python and images were taken from the public database of the Hubble Space Telescope. The project is entirely open source and anyone can create their own musical using our code which is also posted on GitHub.
Watch our entire project in 30 seconds
The Musical of our Universe
The Musical of our Universe is based on some of the iconic images taken by the Hubble Telescope. It has 3 parts. As the entire presentation at the SpaceApps Challenge was limited to 5 minutes we had to considerably reduce the length of the Musical.
Part 1: Birth of Stars: Pillars of Creation
7000 light-years away in the constellation Serpens, Captured on April 1, 1995
The Pillars of Creation is one of the most iconic images by the Hubble Telescope. It constitutes of towering columns of dust and gas in the M16 or the Eagle Nebula. These are the active star-forming regions or star nurseries where new stars are born. The blue colors in the image represent oxygen, red is sulfur, and green represents both nitrogen and hydrogen. The pillars are bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young stars located just outside the frame.
As the image constitutes few spaced out bright stars surround by dust and gas cloud of relatively uniform and lower luminosity, the music generated by the image is relatively softer and calmer with few higher notes.
===> Listen to the Pillars of Creation Image Music (60 seconds)
Part 2: Galaxies of Stars: Hubble Ultra Deep Field
field of view: the constellation of Fornax. Taken over 10 days in 2003- 2004
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the deepest portrait we have of the visible universe. Every object in the image (except for few with diffraction spikes that are foreground stars) is a galaxy. Some of these emitted the light we now see when the Universe was 400 million to 600 million years old – around 13 billion years ago. These were some of the first galaxies to emerge, shortly after the Big Bang when the first stars reheated the cold, dim universe. For very distant objects, their light is redshifted so far, they can only be seen in infrared light. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field image cannot be improved on by building a more sensitive optical telescope — Hubble has reached the limit of what is possible in visible light!
As the image constitutes of a high density of bright objects (galaxies) against a dark background the musical notes rise sharply, and more frequently. This signifies a more active and expanding universe. The rise of musical notes and their time period is dependent on the brightness of the galaxies and their dimensions. Brighter and bigger galaxies will sustain a higher and longer note.
===> Listen to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image Music (60 seconds)
Part 3: Death of Stars: SuperNova 1987A
Resides in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby small galaxy that is a satellite of our Milky Way galaxy
The violent death of a star is called a supernova. SN 1987A was the brightest exploding star seen in 400 years when astronomers spotted it on Feb. 23, 1987. The star actually exploded about 160,000 years ago, but it has taken that long for its light to reach Earth. The elongated and expanding object in the middle is debris from the supernova blast. A shock wave unleashed during a stellar explosion has been racing toward a ring of matter encircling the blast site. As the blast wave slams into the ring, it compresses and heats the gas, and making it glow, creating dozens of “hot spots”. The temperature of the hot spots surges from a few thousand degrees to a million degrees Fahrenheit. The debris will continue to glow for many decades.
The image has several bright spots of large dimensions which creates very high pitched sound – the wails of a star nearing its end. The elliptical bright spot in the center (remnants of the star which exploded) produces its own signature sound which comes in between the high pitched sounds. The dark background between the ring the and exploding star provides the silences/reliefs between the sounds.
===> Listen to the Supernova 1987A Image Music (60 seconds)
Download the Entire Project Presentation: Click here