We like to think of our sun as a constant friend. Sure, it blazes to the tune of around 27 million degrees Fahrenheit but somehow, it always seems so cool, calm and collected.
That's probably because — to borrow a tagline from a classic sci-fi horror movie — in space, no one can hear you scream.
And it turns out, the center of our solar system isn't calm at all, but because space is a vacuum, the resulting sound waves don't travel.
There are other ways to detect sound. NASA has outfitted several spacecraft with sensors capable of capturing radio emissions. Those emissions are then converted to sound waves that are all kinds of creepy.
Specifically, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has an eye trained on the sun, monitoring movement in its ever-changing atmosphere. NASA has even created an audio representation of its natural vibrations — the "low, pulsing hum of our star's heartbeat."
You can listen to "sonifications" from our sun in the track below:
But rather than reconstructing sound from data, what if you could hear the actual din the sun makes with your own ears?
According to a heliophysicist, who ventured to answer that question on a Reddit thread back in 2005, you'd probably wish you hadn't.
"The sun is extraordinarily loud," Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute's Department of Space Studies noted. "Imagine 10,000 Earths covered in police sirens, all screaming."
That's thanks to the fact that the sun is a massive ball of incredibly hot plasma, where nuclear reactions are constantly, noisily forcing gas eruptions to the surface. As Astronomy magazine notes, there are about a million nuclear blasts on the sun's surface at any given time — and every one of those eruptions is about the size of Texas.
Recently, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope took the most detailed image of the sun to date, revealing those vast gas eruptions on it surface — mercifully minus the deafening roar.
"You have to imagine something the size of Texas emerging from below the surface, burning out and sinking, all in the space of five minutes," DeForest says. "That's an extraordinarily violent process — it would create a tremendous amount of sound."
And just what kind of racket would that be? DeForest says by the time those sound waves (carried on completely hypothetical air molecules) reached us, they would be composed of so many different frequencies, it would be more like a wall of white noise. It would be dampened somewhat by that 92 million-mile trek, but probably still reach near-concert levels of 100 decibels.
Indeed, it's the kind of noise that should make us thankful every day for the laws of physics that allow the sun to scream its lungs out into space — while we soak up its rays, and marvel at the seeming serenity of our steady companion.