Picturing the universe and listening to the sound of stars
Among the most intriguing visuals produced by contemporary astronomy are not those that have been cropped and translated into pretty images
In the beautiful |Xam mythologies of the night sky, the stars of the northern Karoo are imagined as close-at-hand, familiar beings who sing and speak: “I grew up listening to the stars,” in the words of |Han≠kass’o: “The stars say: ‘Tsau! Tsau!’”Now this place of ancient human habitation, rock art and archaeological sites is becoming a portal to the early universe as astronomers reshape and rewire the landscape to listen in a different way. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will one day be the largest, most complex scientific instrument ever built. Already, its precursor MeerKAT is among the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. But will we understand what we are seeing?
“Of course, you know the universe isn’t really that colour?”