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Sound of the Sun

  1. Jul 8, 2015 #1
    I know this is speculation but, if the inner solar system was permeated by a gas which could transmit sound waves (say for simplicity, similar to air), would we hear the Sun burning?

    And which kind of sound would it be? Which timbre and range of frequencies? Would it be unbearably loud? Or very attenuated by the big distance they have to travel?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2015 #2
    Yes actually. When we first started really looking closely at the sun, we discovered that no matter what we did, we could not get a clear picture of the surface. There was a lot of random interference. It took a long time, but someone finally realized that that random interference were actually sound waves. This is how scientists can actually tell what's going in inside the star, by looking at the sound waves that come across the surface. These are in the atmosphere of the sun though.

    Once you get away from the surface, there is no air to allow the sound waves to travel, the plasma is too far sparse and too hot.

    Take a look at this very obvious shockwave radiating away from a solar flare. If you were standing in it, it'd sound just like a massive explosion.
  4. Jul 9, 2015 #3


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    Do you have a reference for this? I've never heard of this before. (The part about 'sound waves' interfering with images)
  5. Jul 9, 2015 #4
  6. Jul 9, 2015 #5


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    So you're referring to the part where they say that the ripples didn't disappear, even with more advanced instruments?
  7. Jul 9, 2015 #6
    Yes, it took someone to understand that the ripples were sound waves coming from deep inside to really start the field of helioseismology. Interference was not the correct word, I should have called it distortion.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  8. Jul 10, 2015 #7
    TX. It makes complete sense that the Sun must generate sound waves in its structure, I was just wondering how would we hear them in the hypothetical case that they could be transmitted until the Earth.

    I have also read that astronomers have detected sound waves spreading from the gas clouds surrounding a black hole, and they even calculated the pitch (which was very low).
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