Read More: Phys.Org
After centuries of looking with awe and wonder at the beauty of Saturn and its rings, we can now listen to them, thanks to the efforts of astrophysicists at the University of Toronto (U of T). "To celebrate the Grand Finale of NASA's Cassini mission next month, we converted Saturn's moons and rings into two pieces of music," says astrophysicist Matt Russo, a postdoctoral researcher at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T. The conversion to music is made possible by orbital resonances, which occur when two objects execute different numbers of complete orbits in the same time, so that they keep returning to their initial configuration. The rhythmic gravitational tugs between them keep them locked in a tight repeating pattern which can also be converted directly into musical harmony. "Wherever there is resonance there is music, and no other place in the solar system is more packed with resonances than Saturn," says Russo. The Cassini spacecraft has been collecting data while orbiting Saturn since its arrival in 2004 and is now in the throes of a final death spiral. It will plunge into the planet itself on September 15 to avoid contaminating any of its moons.