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    In the (convection) zone: Astronomers eavesdrop on stars’ innate “twinkle” / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 20:46 · 1 minute

Visualization of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" played through three sizes of massive stars. Credit: Northwestern University.

Science 101 tells us that the twinkling appearance of stars from our vantage point on Earth is due to atmospheric effects: winds and varying temperatures and densities in the air bend and distort the light. But stars have another sort of "twinkle" produced by how gases ripple in waves across their surface, an effect that could provide astronomers with a handy means of exploring the interior of massive stars to learn more about how they form and evolve. But the effect is much too small to be readily detected by telescopes.

So scientists have now developed the first 3D simulations of that innate twinkle, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. As a bonus, the researchers converted the data from those rippling waves of gas into an audible sound, so now we can all take a moment to listen to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (see video above) and Gustav Holst's "Jupiter" (see video below) in the "language" of the stars.

“Motions in the cores of stars launch waves like those on the ocean,” said co-author Evan Anders of Northwestern University. “When the waves arrive at the star’s surface, they make it twinkle in a way that astronomers may be able to observe. For the first time, we have developed computer models which allow us to determine how much a star should twinkle as a result of these waves. This work allows future space telescopes to probe the central regions where stars forge the elements we depend upon to live and breathe.”

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    Elemental music: Interactive periodic table turns He, Fe, Ca into Do, Re, Mi / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 March, 2023 - 15:40 · 1 minute

A recent college graduate has converted the visible light given off by the elements into audio, creating unique, complex sounds for each one.

Enlarge / Graduate student W. Walker Smith converted the visible light given off by the elements into audio, creating unique, complex sounds for each one. His personal favorites are helium and zinc. (credit: W. Walker Smith and Alain Barker)

We're all familiar with the elements of the periodic table, but have you ever wondered what hydrogen or zinc, for example, might sound like? W. Walker Smith, now a graduate student at Indiana University, combined his twin passions of chemistry and music to create what he calls a new audio-visual instrument to communicate the concepts of chemical spectroscopy.

Smith presented his data sonification project—which essentially transforms the visible spectra of the elements of the periodic table into sound—at a meeting of the American Chemical Society being held this week in Indianapolis, Indiana. Smith even featured audio clips of some of the elements, along with "compositions" featuring larger molecules, during a performance of his "The Sound of Molecules" show.

As an undergraduate, "I [earned] a dual degree in music composition and chemistry, so I was always looking for a way to turn my chemistry research into music," Smith said during a media briefing . "Eventually, I stumbled across the visible spectra of the elements and I was overwhelmed by how beautiful and different they all look. I thought it would be really cool to turn those visible spectra, those beautiful images, into sound."

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