In 1962 a group of researchers discovered that the sun oscillated backwards and forwards once every five minutes. As research progressed it was determined that as some sections of the sun were coming closer, other sections were receding. In the seventies astrophysicists announced that these vibrations were caused by acoustic oscillation (sound waves from within the sun).
The sound of the sun
Sound waves are seismic waves which cause up-down and forward-backward movements. According to some scientists with poetic hearts the sound of the sun is like the sound of the heart beat. When a human’s heart beats, it makes varying sounds by contracting and relaxing, and cardiologists use these sounds to determine if there is a problem with the heart. Like the cardiologists who listen to our hearts, helioseismologists (scientists who research the sun’s seismic waves) listen to the sounds of the sun to learn more about its structure and mysteries. The power produced by these sounds makes the sun oscillate like a bell or tremble like someone suffering from a high fever. Another interesting point is that millions of different sounds have been discovered to emanate from the sun and every sound oscillates on a distinct frequency and displays a different pattern on the sun’s surface. If we compare the sun to a piano, a piano has 88 metal wires which produce sounds with varying tones, whereas the sun produces ten million notes. So the sun is like an enormous piano with ten million notes producing sounds at roughly five-minute intervals which create harmonic acoustics resembling the heart beat.
Scientists are trying to decipher these ten million different sounds, which brings us to another interesting point; we cannot hear the sound frequencies because they are too low (between 1–4 millihertz) for the human ear (the lowest range of human hearing is 20 Hz). 1–4 millihertz equals to a time span of 200–1,000 seconds, meaning that the sun oscillates once every 3–16 minutes. Even if our hearing ability was suitable, the sound would not reach us because there is no air or layer of gas between the earth and the sun to convey sound. If we could increase the sounds of the sun by 20,000–40,000 times, the sound humans would hear would only resemble a whisper. The sun is like a musical instrument that plays a continuous concerto of ten million notes every day in the sky above us, and we do not even perceive it. Can you imagine the astronomical music if we were to include the galaxy’s 200 million stars?
Scientists gather important information about the sun’s core by studying the echoes that appear on the sun’s surface from the energy produced from these ten million notes. The solar oscillations are divided into three categories called the p, g, and f modes. The p mode is the pressure of acoustic waves, g mode is gravity and the f mode refers to the surface-gravity waves. There are ten million of the p and f modes alone and the combination of these modes produce ten million different sounds.
In Bediüzzaman’s Risale-i Nur, his explanation of the letter “Lam” in the verse 36:38 in chapter Ya Sin in the Qur’an, affirms that everybody obtains understanding of this chapter according to his or her own spiritual senses and every chapter of the Qur’an contains thousands of aspects from which everyone benefits according to his or her own depth of understanding, from the common public to scholars, from scholars to the philosopher of the cosmos. In The Words, Nursi goes on to say, “Precise and wise scholars consider li to be causal and adverbial. They understand that since the All-Wise Maker operates behind the veil of apparent causality, He has tied the planets to the sun by His law of gravity and causes them to revolve with distinct but regular motions according to His universal wisdom. To produce gravity, He has made the sun’s movement on its axis an apparent cause. Thus a resting place means that “the sun moves in the place determined for it for the order and stability of its own (solar) system.” Like the Divine laws, that motion produces heat, heat produces force, and force produces gravity. … The sun is a light-diffusing tree, and the planets are its moving fruits. But unlike trees, the sun is shaken so that the fruits do not fall. If it were not shaken, they would fall and be scattered. They also may imagine the sun to be a leader of a circle reciting God’s Names, ecstatically reciting in the circle’s center and leading the others to recite. Elsewhere, I expressed this meaning as follows: ‘The sun is a fruit-bearing tree; it is shaken so that its traveling fruits do not fall. If it rested, no longer shaken, the attraction would cease, and those attracted to it would weep through space” (Twenty-fifth Word).
It is interesting that the sun’s oscillation, which modern science discovered in the 1960s, was mentioned much earlier by Bediüzzaman. In fact he went further and even explained the wisdom and necessity of the sun’s oscillation as a law of gravitation keeping the earth and the other surrounding planets in orbit. This is a subject which has only recently begun to be researched by scientists of the present. If we were to look further into the history of the valuable discoveries of Imam Rabbani, Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum, Ulug Bey, and many other scholars, we would be sure to encounter many other scientific facts.
- “Solar Ellipticity Fluctuations Yield No Evidence of g-Modes,” J. R. Kuhn, K. G. Libbrecht and R. H. Dicke, Nature 319, 128 (1986).
- “The Excitation and Damping of Solar Oscillations,” K. G. Libbrecht, B. D. Popp, J. M. Kaufman and M. J. Penn, Nature 323, 235 (1986).
- “What do Observations Tell us about the Excitation of Solar Oscillation Modes?” K. G. Libbrecht, Proceedings of IAU Symposium 123, Advances in Helio- and Astroseismology (1988).
- “Seismology of Solar Oscillation Line Widths,” J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, D. O. Gough, and K. G. Libbrecht, Astrophys. J. Letters 341, L103 (1989).
- “Frequencies of Solar Oscillations,” K. G. Libbrecht, M. F. Woodard, and J. M. Kaufman, Astrophys J. Supp. 74, 1129(1990).
- “Advances in Helioseismology,” K. G. Libbrecht and M. F. Woodard, Science 253, 152 (1991).