‘The Singing Comet’ a “mystery” to scientists

After yesterday’s Rosetta orbiter made a historic comet landing, scientists involved in the mission have discovered that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is emitting “a mysterious ‘song'” into space

According to a post on the Rosetta blog, scientists have been taken somewhat by surprise at this unexpected “singing”.

According to Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier, head of Space Physics and Space Sensorics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig in Germany, “This is exciting because it is completely new to us. We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening.” One theory suggests that it might be produced by the activity of the comet, with the process of neutral particles getting released into space and becoming electrically charged. However, “the precise physical mechanism behind the oscillations remains a mystery.”

The sound is being emitted at 40-50 millihertz, a level far below the capacity of human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. The frequencies had to be increased by a factor of about 10,000 to make the music audible to the human ear. Listen to a recording below. [via BBC News]