Canada's top space icon and former commander of the International Space Station (ISS) has debunked a popular myth about space. The astronaut discussed if it would be possible to hear loud explosions or sounds in space.
The topic was covered by Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. Apart from serving aboard the ISS, he is also known as the first Canadian to walk in space.
Explosions of the Sun
In a video interview conducted by Wired, Hadfield discussed a myth about loud explosions in space. According to the former astronaut, the most prominent explosion in space for humans is that of the Sun. As explained by Hadfield, the Sun is constantly producing loud and violent explosions from its surface. These explosions are more powerful than all of the atomic bombs made by humans.
"The Sun is the biggest explosion any of us can imagine," Hadfield explained during the interview. "It's a huge continuous thermonuclear explosion. Every atom bomb we've ever built way more than that continuously exploding. It would be the loudest thing imaginable."
Sounds In Space
Despite the violent nature of the explosions produced by the Sun, Hadfield noted that the sounds they create cannot be heard on Earth or even by astronauts in space. This is because sounds produced in space cannot travel across. On heard, sounds can be heard because they can travel across molecules in the air and cause them to vibrate. However, due to the vast emptiness and vacuum of space, sounds cannot travel.
In other words, the vast distance between cosmic objects such as planets, stars and moons, as well as the lack of air molecules in space, prevent sounds from traveling and being heard. This concept goes against most science fiction films that feature loud explosions in space. "There's nowhere for the pressure of all of that sound, all of that noise to be carried across the emptiness of space to shake my eardrum and let me hear the sound of the Sun," Hadfield explained.