#GS3 #Science and Technology
- The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a radio telescope with 66 antennas in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, is about to receive hardware and software upgrades that will allow it to gather much more data and produce sharper images than ever before, according to a recent report in the journal Science.
- The correlator, a supercomputer that integrates data from several antennas to produce incredibly precise images of astronomical objects, will be replaced as part of ALMA’s most substantial modernisation.
- The acronym ALMA refers to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.
- A cutting-edge telescope called ALMA is used to study astronomical objects at millimetre and submillimeter wavelengths. Astronomers can analyse far-off, dim galaxies and stars with their assistance since they can see through dust clouds. Its high sensitivity allows it to detect radio waves that are quite faint.
- The telescope’s 66 incredibly accurate antennas are dispersed over an area of up to 16 kilometres.
- Each antenna is equipped with a number of receivers, each of which is tuned to a particular band of electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths.
- Like to a zoom lens on a camera, the antennas can be moved closer together or farther apart to compensate for different angles. The result is spectacular, never-before-seen footage of the darkest, deepest space, claims a Science Node report. The correlator creates a distinct image from each antenna.
- The National Radio Astronomy Observatory of the United States (NRAO), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan collaborated to plan, organise, and build the radio telescope (NAOJ). Since 2013, it has been completely functional. (ESO). Over time, it has helped astronomers make important discoveries, such as those regarding starburst galaxies and the production of dust inside supernova 1987A.
Why is ALMA in the Atacama Desert of Chile?
- ALMA is located on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert at an elevation of 16,570 feet (5,050 metres) above sea level because the millimetre and submillimeter wavelengths it monitors are very sensitive to atmospheric water vapour absorption on Earth.
- The desert, which is also the driest place on Earth, is a great place to observe the stars because most of its nights are cloud- and moisture-free.
- With connections, the travel from Japan to the ALMA facility in Chile takes 40 hours. The chosen location still gives the best ALMA telescope viewing conditions on Earth despite its enormous distance.
What are a few of ALMA’s most significant discoveries?
- Scientists are working to solve long-standing mysteries about our cosmic origins using ALMA’s capability to take high-resolution images of the gas and dust from which stars and planets are formed as well as ingredients that could be the substrate for life.
- One of the first discoveries made in 2013 was that starburst galaxies developed more recently in the universe’s history than previously believed. These recently found galaxies “reflect the active, star-forming youth of today’s most massive galaxies,” the study claims.
- N states that ALMA “changed the previously accepted theory on the planetary formation” by capturing precise photos of the protoplanetary disc orbiting HL Tauri, a very young T Tauri star in the constellation Taurus, some 450 light years from Earth.
- The Einstein ring, which happens when light from a galaxy or star passes by a large object on its way to the Earth, was observed in incredibly fine detail in 2015 using the telescope.
- The supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy has just been captured in the first image by the Event Horizon Telescope project, a big telescope array made up of a worldwide network of radio telescopes. In May 2022, scientists released the photograph.