The Animals Behind the Sounds of Star Wars

The legendary science-fiction franchise has drawn inspiration from surprising places for the sounds made by some of its characters.

In 1977, George Lucas created an entire universe from scratch. The birth of the Star Wars franchise was also the birth of Ben Burtt's legendary career as a sound engineer. Burtt, who has contributed to every Star Wars movie and subsequent video game and TV show since the beginning, capitalized on the plethora of sounds the natural world offers to bring Star Wars to life.

Check out some of the iconic Star Wars sounds and the curious animals behind them:


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According to Burtt, the infamous voice of everyone's favorite Wookiee was created using "mostly bears, with a dash of walrus, dog, and lion thrown in". Star Wars fans insist, however, that Burtt got more creative than he cared to admit. They argue Burtt also enlisted the help of camels, badgers, tigers and even rabbits.

TIE Fighters and Elephants:

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Now listen to this:

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Quite similar, no? In fact, the TIE fighter sounds were created using the howls and yells of elephants. All Burtt did was stretch them out and slow them down.

Tusken Raiders and Donkeys:

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Now listen to this:

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Burtt and his crew made minimal manipulations to the donkey bray to create the desired sound. Just a bit of deepening and speed adjustment and voila.

The Sarlacc:

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While the Sarlacc noise is mainly an orchestra of the sound crew's growling stomachs, the base effect used was an alligator's hiss.


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Now listen to this:

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This one may be harder to hear, but the sounds of the Tauntauns were created by manipulating the vocal stylings of an Asian sea otter named Moda.

Acklay Screech:

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Now listen to this:

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To create the screech of one of the most terrifying monsters from The Battle of Geonosis, Burtt called upon sounds from pigs and dolphins.

See Also: These Pets Think They're in a Star Wars Movie

Article first appeared on Animal Planet

Spending 25 years in orbit allows the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope investigators a huge advantage: they can watch the sky change over time. See how some of Hubble's most famous pictures evolved, particularly after astronauts on the last shuttle visit (in 2009) installed the

Wide Field Camera 3


Advanced Camera for Surveys

on the telescope. First up, is the famous Twin Jet Nebula, shown here by Hubble in 1997.

Browse to the next slide to see the nebula in a new light.

MORE: Hubble at 25: Space Telescope's Top Science Discoveries

Recently, Hubble revisited the Twin Jet Nebula to see if it could catch a better glimpse of the gas moving within it. "The new image highlights the nebula’s shells and its knots of expanding gas in striking detail,"

writes the European Space Agency

. What you're seeing here is an old star (slightly larger than our sun) dying, shedding its layers while a small, faint core shines on the gas. This particular type of nebula is known as a planetary nebula. It also has a smaller white dwarf companion that went through this same process before.

MORE: Hubble at 25: The Space Telescope by the Numbers

Young stars are born in clouds of gas such as this one, seen close-up in the Eagle Nebula. The famous "Pillars of Creation" photo at left has been used in many places, including many movies, television shows and a postage stamp.

To celebrate the telescope's 25th anniversary

, Hubble astronomers used its infrared (heat-seeking) camera wavelengths to get a better look at the stars inside. This shows how the heat of the young stars is eroding the structure. They also saw a jet from one of the young stars expanding 60 billion miles further across the universe.

MORE: Hubble at 25: Brief History of the Hubble Space Telescope

It's full of stars! This picture of NGC 2174 (the Monkey Head Nebula) from 2014 shows stars shining


the gas and dust some 6,400 light-years away in the constellation Orion -- whereas visible light is blocked by the cloud, Hubble's infrared camera can see deep inside.

The new picture showed far more detail in the dust clouds and gas than seen earlier

; colors in this image are tinted to show what Hubble can see in ranges beyond the human eye.

MORE: Hubble at 25: What's Next for the Space Telescope?

Next up is NGC 6240, two tidally-disturbed merging galaxies, first imaged by Hubble in 2008...

Look closely -- see that pink region in the center of these merging galaxies? This is new detail that was only visible after Hubble got its upgrade. Roughly 400 million light years away is this beautiful, tangled mess known as NGC 6240. And the pink region shows the energetic effects of

two supermassive black holes

just 3,000 light years apart (the galaxy itself is 300,000 light years across). The black holes will eventually merge and form a much bigger single black hole.

MORE: Hubble's Beautiful Butterfly Nebulae

If you take Hubble's camera and point at a small and seemingly empty region of sky, what happens? That original question sparked the famous "

Hubble Deep Field

" in 1996, which combined more than 275 pictures to get this image of galaxies that are old. So old that some likely formed only one billion years after the universe did.

MORE: Top 10 Hubble Hotshots of 2014

Over the decades, Hubble investigators have looked at progressively smaller fractions of this field, resulting in the

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF)

that you can see here from 2012. This combined 2,000 images over 50 days of exposures.

MORE: Hubble Adds Ultraviolet to Epic Ultra-Deep Cosmic View