Subaru, Keck I and II, and the IRTF at sunset, as seen from Gemini North | © Alex Parker | Astronomy Department, University of Victoria

Kepler 11 System - A Six-Planet Sonata

Kepler Sonata from Alex Parker on Vimeo and YouTube. Audio available for download from SoundCloud.

Sonification of the transits of the remarkable Kepler 11 planetary system.

Located roughly 2000 light-years from Earth, the star Kepler 11 has a compact system of six planets, detected by the Kepler space observatory through their transits of their host star.

Here, I've taken each transit seen by the observatory and assigned a pitch and volume to it. The pitch (note) is determined by the planet's distance from its star (closer=higher), and they are drawn from a minor 11 chord. The volume is determined by the size of the planet (larger=louder).

The near-4:5 mean-motion resonance of the innermost two planets is audible as the notes "beat" against each other.

A triple-transit (three planets crossing the face of the star at once) in August 2010 is also audible. This event is what is illustrated in the artist's impression of the system used in the cover photo.

Creative Commons license - 2012 - Alex Harrison Parker, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.