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spaceSpace and Physics

A Solar Storm Hitting Earth’s Magnetic Field Makes For Very Eerie Listening

Turning the changes in the magnetic field around us into music is quite eerie.

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockOct 28 2022, 13:38 UTC
Magnetic field waving about as a transparent Earth show its core
Artist impression of the Magnetic field and where it comes from within the Earth. ESA/ATG medialab

Earth’s magnetic field has protected life on Earth from solar radiation for as long as it has existed (which is longer than we thought) but it is not constant. It changes in many different ways that are not immediately easy to appreciate. Now, scientists have converted these fluctuations into sounds that we can hear, and yes, they're eerie.

Using data from the European Space Agency’s trio of Swarm satellites, researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have been monitoring the changes in the magnetic field for almost a decade – revealing some previously unknown details of the interior of our planet. 

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The Earth’s magnetic field is produced by the liquid iron that makes the outer core swirl about in the deeper layers of the Earth. The field moves and changes over time, often with small variations, but it is known to flip every few thousand years.

Now, in time for Halloween, ESA has released audio of what our planet's magnetic field sounds like, including a geomagnetic storm that hit it in 2011. 


“The team used data from ESA’s Swarm satellites, as well as other sources, and used these magnetic signals to manipulate and control a sonic representation of the core field," musician and project supporter Klaus Nielsen of DTU explained in a statement

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The sounds were actually played in an art installation in Solbjerg Square in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

“We have set it up so that each speaker represents a different location on Earth and demonstrates how our magnetic field has fluctuated over the last 100 000 years,” Nielsen said.

“The rumbling of Earth’s magnetic field is accompanied by a representation of a geomagnetic storm that resulted from a solar flare on 3 November 2011, and indeed it sounds pretty scary.”

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If you find yourself in Copenhagen, the broadcast of the rumble of Earth’s magnetic field can be heard until October 30 around 8 am, 1 pm, and 7 pm.


spaceSpace and Physics
  • tag
  • solar storm,

  • geomagnetic field,

  • sonification