Over the past ten years there has been a large increase in the number of projects using sound to represent astronomical data and concepts. Motivation for these projects includes the potential to enhance scientific discovery within complex datasets, by utilizing the inherent multidimensionality of sound and the ability of our hearing to filter signals from noise. Other motivations include creating engaging multisensory resources, for education and public engagement, and making astronomy more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, promoting their participation in science and related careers. We describe potential benefits of sound within these contexts and provide an overview of the nearly 100 sound-based astronomy projects that we have identified. We discuss current limitations and challenges of the approaches taken. Finally, we suggest future directions to help realize the full potential of sound-based techniques in general and to widen their application within the astronomy community.
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We are grateful to the Lorentz Centre for supporting the organization of the Audible Universe workshop in September 2021 and to the workshop participants for valuable and insightful discussions. We also thank members of the Sonification World Chat and K. Perkins, for helping us collate information about current astronomy sonification and sound design projects. We thank I. Harry, C. McIsaac and S. Fairhurst for providing information about their Black Hole Hunter project and the possibility to include the data in Fig. 1. We are grateful to Y. Hua and P. Ciuccarelli for their help in creating Figs. 2 and 3. We are grateful to Jeff Hannam for his help in creating the sonification of Fig. 2.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Zanella, A., Harrison, C.M., Lenzi, S. et al. Sonification and sound design for astronomy research, education and public engagement. Nat Astron 6, 1241–1248 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-022-01721-z
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