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: