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Space Science

World's Most Powerful Telescope Begins Search For Origin of the Universe 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the where-the-sidewalk-ends dept.
MrSeb writes "The largest astronomical installation in the world is now operational. ALMA, or the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, is a vast radio telescope made out of 66 12- and 7-meter dish antennae situated 5,000m above sea level, in Chile. Its purpose is to seek out new life and new civilizations and to boldly go where no telescope has gone before. But no, seriously: its job is to peer into the past and investigate ancient stars and nebulae, peer at exoplanets that might support human (or alien) life, and hopefully learn more about interstellar creation and destruction. For now only 20 out of 66 antennae are in place, but when it is complete — late next year — it will have a resolving power far greater than Hubble, according to the European Space Observatory (ESO) that operates ALMA."
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World's Most Powerful Telescope Begins Search For Origin of the Universe

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 03, 2011 @10:00AM (#37589792)

    As an astrophysicist who's highly interested in using ALMA, I can say that this short description undersells the capabilities of ALMA. While the image resolution is going to be greater than that of Hubble, ALMA will also be observing wavelength ranges previously unobserved from the ground. While space based instruments such as Herschel have observed some of these ranges in the past, these observations don't even come close to the spatial resolution of ALMA.

  • Re:Not comparable (Score:5, Informative)

    by Teun (17872) on Monday October 03, 2011 @10:37AM (#37590182) Homepage
    The comparison was not about the colours (wavelength or frequency) but about the observable resolution.

    In other words, this radio telescope will be able to discern details the Hubble cannot see.

  • ESO (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 03, 2011 @10:50AM (#37590316)

    ESO means European Southern Observatory not European Space Observatory!

  • Not just ESO (Score:3, Informative)

    by dvase (1134189) on Monday October 03, 2011 @11:24AM (#37590616)
    Small correction to the summary, ESO is not the only organization operating ALMA. It is an international partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

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