Nerd Talk: Space Music

Call that blue guy from the Cantina Band...

May 17, 2017
Solar system in outer space

© Jurgen Ziewe |

Usually, when we think of space music, one thing that immediately comes to mind is that blue weirdo from Star Wars' Cantina Band, Max Rebo. Yes, I know his name. Shut up.

Or the melon heads that play the "Cantina Band"

You now have the Star Wars Cantina song in your head.

Back in February, NASA announced a pretty killer discovery of a bunch of new, possibly habitable, planets they found pulling some serious g's orbitting a nearby star. Called Trappist 1, this star system is much more compact than our own. All seven planets hug their way more chill, ultra-cool dwarf star closer than Mercury is to our big ol' explodey ball of fusion.

Scientists were baffled how it's possible that with so many marbles rocketing in such close proximity that they could avoid smashing into each other. That is until some music minded nerd noticed that the rotation of all the planets form a bunch of resonances. It's complicated stuff for my simple brain but they say "the planets of TRAPPIST-1 are locked in the longest known chain of resonances ever discovered, where the time it takes each planet to go around the central star forms a simple, whole-number ratio with those of its neighbours. For every 2 orbits of the outermost known planet (h), each body (progressively moving inward executes 3, 4, 6, 9, 15 and 24 orbits. We have recently shown in a research paper that the planets can settle into this remarkable configuration while drifting in their birth disk, and this fine tuning is likely the main reason the system has managed to survive to the present day".

Translation - we can make beats and music out of this.

Space music.

Closer to techno than it is anything else, the tones here are generated using the actual frequencies of the planets respective orbits. That means, there's a note in there that will likely drive you crazy. But that same crazy is the thing that makes it exciting to try and get a space ship traveling faster than light speed to our nearby neighbor for a peek. Here, give it a listen:

SUPER COOL. For a minute there, it sounded old-timey like you just parked your horse and we're about to have some gross warm beers. 

So while the melody might not exactly be there, you should hear what other systems sound like. Luckily they made audio for the Kepler system. Scroll down to "KEPLER90 Melody" and see what a mess those planets make.

Look, this beat isn't gonna replace Twenty One Pilots anytime soon, but the idea that something potentially music is the very thing keeping a solar system alive is pretty badass. Too bad the robots will destroy us before we ever have a chance to check it out.

Now listen to this dumb song for almost 10 hours.