In Space No one can hear my stupid question


Chuckle Churner
Jul 18, 2007

I know they say that there is no sound in space and, if I understand correctly, this is because the sound has no medium to move through (the void of space being too empty to carry the sound).
But what if there is an explosion and the gas from the explosion (atmosphere of some sort) is expanding as it would do, if you were within the expanding ring of gas would you be able to hear the explosion?
Would it be a rumble? Or the echo of a boom?

Would it be right to say that, if there was a medium for the sound waves to propegate through then you would hear a sound in space, if you had your ear inside/attached to whatever it was that the sound waves were moving through?
You may find this of interest:

As I understand it, even were you to survive such an explosion, the rate of dispersal of the matter there would prevent sound from traveling because of the spaces between the different particles, which spaces would themselves be near-vacuum. Hence, you would only hear sound within a confined space where the air is dense enough to allow the propagation of the waves, not in open space.
J.D. is right—you'd have to be awfully close to an explosion in a vacuum to catch enough gas to be able to hear its passage from inside a spacesuit. Odds are, it would sound like a faint breeze passing. (Assuming you could hear it over the minor noises of your own life support system.)

During the late 1950s and early 1960s Joe Kittinger participated in a number of high altitude studies for the US Air Force, during which he made a "sky dive" from around 31 km up. That's technically still inside the atmosphere, as spacecraft deorbiting or aerobraking to Earth begin to show effects around 120 km high. But Kittinger was still high enough that the air around him was extremely rarified. I recall a documentary interview with him. If I'm remembering correctly, the first few minutes of his jump were in total silence; he felt the thickening air before hearing it.

The article mentions a five-volume set of "space sounds" picked up by space probes. I bought Symphonies of the Planets when it was first released and found it fascinating. The liner notes make a few general statements (aimed at the layman) about the recordings, but is non-specific about exactly which Voyager instruments picked up which sounds, and from which body. But it does note that some of the "vibrations" were within the range of human hearing (20 - 20,000 Hz).

One of the tracks sounds remarkably like The Machine from the movie Contact, which I imagine is intentional. Sagan probably handed one of the Voyager recordings over to the movie sound team as a suggestion. (The movie sound effect is obviously reconstructed, but the likeness is very close.) Other tracks in the set sound like birds, cetaceans, and ocean waves. Overall, the spooky sounds would be great background for Halloween.
Depends on how big an explosion and how much gas it generates/displaces.

The leading edge of the matter leaving the region – the shock front – would produce quite a sharp, relatively high-frequency rich noise, like the beater hitting the skin of a bass drum. But there would be little or no low frequency boom, because there would be no air left for it to resonate in, or at least very little.

but one of the major ways of soundproofing involves making the vibrations pass from one medium to another, being attenuated at each interface. This is particularly effective at high frequencies. It seems to me that a sealed space helmet, even in atmosphere, would be a pretty effective sound insulator. So in fact, rather than hear the explosion you might receive the pressure wave as a giant, whole body punch, with just a hint of a dull thud.

Similar threads