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Listen to the Universe: New NASA Sonifications and Documentary

Three new sonifications of images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes have been released in conjunction with a new documentary about the project that makes its debut on the NASA+ streaming platform.

Sonification is the process of translating data into sounds. In the case of Chandra and other telescopes, scientific data are collected from space as digital signals that are commonly turned into visual imagery. The sonification project takes these data through another step of mapping the information into sound.

The three new sonifications feature different objects observed by NASA telescopes.

The first is MSH 11-52, a supernova remnant blowing a spectacular cloud of energized particles resembling the shape of a human hand, seen in data from Chandra, NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), and ground-based optical data.

M74 is a spiral galaxy like our Milky Way and this sonification combines data taken with NASA’s James Webb and Hubble Space Telescopes as well as X-rays from Chandra.

The third object in this new sonification trio is nicknamed the Jellyfish Nebula, also known as IC 443. These data include X-rays from Chandra and the now-retired German ROSAT mission as well as radio data from NSF’s Very Large Array and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey.

The new documentary, “Listen to the Universe,” now available on NASA+ ( explores how these sonifications are created and profiles the team that makes them possible.

Started in 2020, the NASA sonification project built off of other Chandra projects aimed at reaching blind and visually-impaired audiences. It has since shown to be meaningful to that community but also impacts much wider audiences, finding listeners through traditional and social media around the world.

“We are so excited to partner with NASA+, along with her collaborators at SYSTEMS Sounds, to help tell the story about NASA’s sonification project,” said Kimberly Arcand, Chandra’s Visualization and Emerging Technology Scientist, who leads the sonification efforts. “It’s wonderful to see how this project has grown and reached so many people.”

NASA+ is the agency’s new streaming platform, delivering video and other content about NASA to the public whenever and wherever they want to access it. The on-demand streaming service is available to download on most major platforms via the NASA App on iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices, as well as streaming media players Roku and Apple TV.

“Sonifications add a new dimension to stunning space imagery, and make those images accessible to the blind and low-vision community for the first time,” said Liz Landau, who leads multimedia efforts for NASA’s Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, Washington, and oversaw production of the “Listen to the Universe” documentary. “I was honored to help tell the story of how Dr. Arcand and the System Sounds team make these unique sonic experiences and the broad impact those sonifications have had.”

More information about the NASA sonification project through Chandra, which is made in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning, can be found at

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

NASA’s Universe of Learning materials are based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A to the Space Telescope Science Institute, working in partnership with Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  

Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

News Media Contact

Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center
Cambridge, Mass.

Jonathan Deal
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Ala.