ALMA telescope opens its eyes on the Universe

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 14:26

Washington: The most complex ground-based astronomy observatory on Earth has opened its eyes for the first time, 5,000 metres above sea level in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert.

ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, was officially opened for astronomers on Monday after a decade of planning and construction.

The 1.35-billion-dollars telescope, a joint project by the United States, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Japan and Taiwan, will explore some of the darkest, coldest, farthest, and most hidden secrets of the Cosmos.

“We went to one of the most extreme locations on Earth to build the world’s largest array of millimeter/sub-millimeter telescopes having a level of technical sophistication that was merely a dream only a decade ago,” said Dr. Mark McKinnon, North American ALMA Project Manager at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We made the impossible possible. This truly is a great occasion!” he added.

ALMA, which is under construction, is currently using 16 large antennas to see wavelengths of light that are much longer than what the human eyes can see. Eventually it will use 66 antennas.

Over 900 project proposals were submitted from around the world, competing to be the first ones to explore the universe using ALMA.

However, its first round of scientific observations, dubbed “Early Science”, will be limited to 100 projects.

The successful projects were chosen based on their scientific value, their regional diversity, and also their relevance to ALMA’s major science goals.

Among the projects chosen for “Early Science” observations is the hunt for the building blocks of solar systems by a team led by David Wilner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Washington: The most complex ground-based astronomy observatory on Earth has opened its eyes for the first time, 5,000 metres above sea level in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert.

ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, was officially opened for astronomers on Monday after a decade of planning and construction.

The 1.35-billion-dollars telescope, a joint project by the United States, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Japan and Taiwan, will explore some of the darkest, coldest, farthest, and most hidden secrets of the Cosmos.

“We went to one of the most extreme locations on Earth to build the world’s largest array of millimeter/sub-millimeter telescopes having a level of technical sophistication that was merely a dream only a decade ago,” said Dr. Mark McKinnon, North American ALMA Project Manager at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We made the impossible possible. This truly is a great occasion!” he added.

ALMA, which is under construction, is currently using 16 large antennas to see wavelengths of light that are much longer than what the human eyes can see. Eventually it will use 66 antennas.

Over 900 project proposals were submitted from around the world, competing to be the first ones to explore the universe using ALMA.

However, its first round of scientific observations, dubbed “Early Science”, will be limited to 100 projects.

The successful projects were chosen based on their scientific value, their regional diversity, and also their relevance to ALMA’s major science goals.

Among the projects chosen for “Early Science” observations is the hunt for the building blocks of solar systems by a team led by David Wilner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ANI



First Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 12:38

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