Can You Hear Sound in Space?

You pierced an illusion when you said the James Webb telescope photos are artificially colored. But what about this? I attended a planetarium show that depicted a collision of asteroids, and the walls seemed to shake with the noise of the explosion. My wife said the sound was added to get attention. Please say it ain’t so!

—John W., Queens, New York 

If you were able to witness such a collision firsthand, you would indeed hear nothing. In the vacuum of space, the event is silent. What we call sound is the way our brains interpret a vibration that propagates in waves through a medium such as air until it reaches our ears. Without any medium to vibrate, no sound exists.

Related: Do NASA’s James Webb Telescope Photos Represent the Universe From Where the Telescope Is?

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