What is the outcome when a radio person bumps into the planet hunter Kepler’s data? Obvius: sounds come out. A tranzit is in fact a mini eclipse and these are the subtle variations in a star’s luminosity Kepler used to look for between 2009 and 2013. From Kepler’s data scientists concluded that there must be 17 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy (though they have a somewhat different opinion about this term than everyday people do).
The fun thing about Kepler is that through the citizen scientist project called planethunters we all can contribute or just browse the data. The huge pile of data. I dedicated a few days to the project and looked for planets myself looking at the plotted luminosities of stars. This is what I wanted to share on air.
How do you make a star audible? How do you make a planet tranzit audible? All you have to do is convert one kind of data into another kind of data, in our case a CSV file to a WAV. I chose a frequency interval and distributed the recorded luminosity values so that the higher the value the higher the pitch. Easy, huh? So I wrote a rudimentary CSV2WAV converter in the language I had at my hands at the moment: PHP. The outcome is a very grainy WAV file (sine waves are cut in half) that needs a lot of procesing (filtering, speeding, changing the pitch) to make it pleasent, but hey, I happen to work in a radio, so this is no issue :)
I chose these four stars (data available on the planethunters site):
SPH10072124 – a variable giant
SPH10084650 – typical eclipsing binary
SPH10971990 – this could be a huge planet
SPH10125117 – this could be a small planet
You can download the program (php) from this location. Note that I put zero effort in writing an elegant code.
You might want to check out this link too, since I am not the first nor the best “stellar composer”.