ALMA Opens Its Eyes
Humanity’s most complex ground-based astronomy observatory opens for business
Researchers presented details about an eagerly awaited new astronomical observatory during a live webcast last Thursday with the National Science Foundation and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
Astronomers Kartik Sheth and Adam Leroy of the NRAO's North American ALMA Science Center, and Brad Whitmore of the Space Telescope Science Institute, discussed details of the first scientific observing cycle with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array or ALMA. They explained how ALMA will contribute to understanding the universe.
The researchers also discussed the first test image released by the ALMA collaboration. The image, a composite of views of the "Antennae Galaxy" was taken with several different types of telescopes, including test data from ALMA.
The ALMA image reveals hidden starbirth nestled inside otherwise obscuring dust clouds. The Antennae galaxies are the nearest and youngest example of a prototypical merging galaxy.
Additional discussions centered on a description of astronomers' strong response to the availability of observing time on ALMA, life at the ALMA site, and how ALMA will evolve over coming months from its current complement of 16 radio telescopes to its final array of 66.
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