The Rainbows and Songs of the Stars

Spectroscopy and the Elements of the Stars and Planets


Human beings have always looked towards the sky and marveled at the stars. These small specks of light in the sky provoked many questions: What are stars? What are they made of? How can we see them better?

Using spectroscopes, we can answer these questions. Stars give off light which a spectroscope takes in and refracts. Depending on what element or elements the star is made of, we will see a different light spectrum in the spectroscope.

Other spectral recorders can be mounted on satellite for remote analysis of out universe. Some of the frequency data recorded is within the human range of hearing, and can be mapped out as sound waves. These recordings can give scientist a unique look at stars and planets, as well as provide a uniquely beautiful listening experience.

Thanks to new scientific advancements, we now have answers to these questions. We know that these "small specs" are actually massive balls of gas and plasma, and that our own sun is one of these stars. We know exactly what gases stars are made of thanks to spectroscopy. This website will show you the magic of the stars with new eyes and ears and with new light and sound, all represented with spectroscope readings and descriptions.

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Sirius and Betelgeuse

This spectroscope reading shows the gas composition of the massive Sirius and Betelgeuse stars. In the upper four readings (Sirius), you can see very distinct lines, which identify Hydrogen in the star. The lower readings (Betelgeuse) have many different lines, which point to multiple gases of which the star is made of.
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Hot Colors

This image shows the relationship between color and temperature. When colors with a higher wavelength are emphasized more, the sun is cooler. When colors with a shorter wavelength are emphasized, the sun is hotter. Temperature here is measured in kelvin.
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Spectroscopy is not exclusive to stars. Jupiter reflects light that can also be perceived through a spectroscope. With this, we can know precisely what the gaseous planets in our solar system are comprised of, except with a different spectral response.
Jupiter sounds (so strange!) NASA-Voyager recording

A Planet's Song

Spectral readings are also not limited to light. With new technology, scientists can transform low frequency light into sounds, which not only give some insight as to what activity is occurring on planets and stars, but also provide strange, vivid, and beautiful sounds to listen to. This particular recording was recorded from Jupiter by one of the Voyager satellites.
Singing stars

When Stars Make Music

Similar to the above recording, stars can make their own sounds as well. Scientists can use these sounds to determine the size and age of a particular sound. For dwarf, sunlike stars, the recording bears resemblance to a raw saw wave, but with some interesting filtering. The white noise comes from the star's granulations
NASA Space Sounds

Invisible Beauty

There is no doubt that the sounds recorded in space are amazing and beautiful. This compilation showcases some different recording from other planetary bodies in our solar system, including Earth.