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Sonification of exosolar planetary systems

Quinton, Michael Albert Paul


Michael Albert Paul Quinton


The purpose of this research is to investigate sonification techniques suitable for astronomers to explore exosolar planetary data. Four studies were conducted, one with sonification specialists and three with exosolar planetary astronomers. The first study was to establish existing practices in sonification design and obtain detailed information about design processes not fully communicated in published papers. The other studies were about designing and evaluating sonifications for three different fields of exosolar astronomy. One, to sonify atmospheric data of an exoplanet in a habitable zone. Another, to sonify accretion discs located in newly developing exosolar systems. The third sonification, planet detection in an asteroid belt. User-centred design was used so that mappings of the datasets could be easily comprehensible. Each sonification was designed to sound like the natural elements that were represented in the data. Spatial separation between overlapping datasets can make hidden information more noticeable and provide additional dimensionality for sound objects. It may also give a more realistic interpretation of the data object in a real-world capacity. Multiple psychoacoustic mappings can convey data dimensionality and immediate recognition of subtle changes. Sound design aesthetics that mimic natural sounds were more relatable for the user. Sonification has been effective within the context of these studies offering new insight by unmasking previously unnoticed data particulars. It has also given the astronomers a broader understanding of the dimension of the data objects that they study and their temporal-spatial behaviours. Future work pertains to the further development and creation of a sonification model consisting of different aspects of exosolar astronomy that could be developed for a platform that houses different data related to this field of study.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2022
Public URL
Award Date Jul 31, 2021


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