STRAUSS - A Tool to Sonify the Universe

To create sonfications, we primarily utilise our new code Sonification Tools and Resources for Astronomers Using Sound Synthesis (STRAUSS). Briefly, this python code allows the user to synthesise sounds or manipulate pre-recorded audio samples with properties (e.g. pitch, volume, timbre) that are mapped from input data.

You can also move objects in artificial space around an ‘observer’ and the code will correctly calculate the relative volumes for the different channels of different speaker setups (e.g. stereo or 5.1 systems). For example we used this to assign a sound to the Moon and the planets and then create the illusion, through sound, that they orbit around the audience. Additionally, we added a volume envelope to emphasise this orbiting effect.

STRAUSS can be used as a sonification tool for all kinds of data analysis. It was used to create the sonifications in Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System (see our page on using STRAUSS for the show), and we are currently applying STRAUSS to data from galaxies to learn how sound could be used to identify growing supermassive black holes and places of rapid star creation.

The STRAUSS code is publicly available on GitHub below. A citable pre-release version is available on Zenedo here:

Get started with sonification of data with STRAUSS

Here you can try some Jupyter Python notebooks to experiment with STRAUSS that were created for the Audible Universe 2 workshop. These are early proto-type tutorials to highlight some of the functionality of STRAUSS and provide training. We will continue to develop these to enhance the learning experience and further highlight even more features of STRAUSS. However, if you are keen to get started we would be pleased for you to try these and provide feedback. The only requirement is that you need your own Google Account so that you can save a copy of the notebook into your own Google Drive. Once you have done this, everything will run for you in the browser (no need to run Python/STRAUSS on your own machine) and any edits will be saved to your Google Drive.


1. Follow the links below and then click “Open In Colab” button, which is at the top of the very top of the inline Notebook

2. When the project opens in Colab, immediately do File>Save a Copy in Drive. This will save a copy to your own Google Drive, so that you can make your own edits and save them as you explore the notebook.

3. Select Edit > Clear All Outputs.

4. Start reading the instructions inside the notebook.

5. To execute a code cell, click in the cell and then press the “Play” button

6. Feel free to edit the code and explore! For example, you can change the example data that is read in to experiment with sonifying the different examples.

Notebook example with star light curves:


The data is also stored in the Google Drive in the form of csv files. There are three examples provided:

GALEX_NUV_LC.csv: Flare stare

tic_lc.csv: Exclipsing binary star

kid11616200_lc.csv: Heartbeat star.

Notebook example with AGN galaxy spectra:


The data is also stored in the Google Drive in the form of csv files. These are grouped into three directories "Type1/" (four examples), "Type1.5/" (two examples) and "Type2/" (four examples).

Section 2 of the notebook explains how to access the data with the different file names.

Notebook example with multi-variate galaxy simulation data


This example accesses the star-formation and metal-enrichment histories of 5 galaxies from the EAGLE simulations. It shows an example of how to sonify multiple properties at once (in a time-series like sonification).