The antennae galaxies (also known as NGC 4038 and 4039) are seen in this image made from the parabolic antennas of the ALMA project. Photo: ALMA
Viễn vọng kính mạnh nhất thế giới mở mắt nhìn vào vũ trụ.
Viễn vọng kính ALMA là kết quả của một công trình hợp tác khoa học của nhiều quốc gia gồm Hoa Kỳ, khối EU, Nhật Bản và Chi Lê sau gần 10 năm xây dựng.
ALMA là công trình thiên văn học lớn nhất thế giới, có độ khuếch đại mạnh nhất, và cấu trúc phức tạp nhất cho một trung tâm quan sát đặc trên đất liền.
Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA project, in the Atacama desert, some 1500km north of Santiago in Chile. Photo: AFP
World’s most powerful telescope opens eye on the universe
A powerful new telescope affording a view of the universe unmatched by most ground-based observatories opened its eyes for the first time on Monday deep in Chile’s Atacama desert.
The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), a joint project with the United States, European Union, Japan and Chile, officially opened for astronomers after a decade of planning and construction.
ALMA, which is the world’s biggest astronomy project, is described as the most powerful millimetre/submillimetre-wavelength telescope in the world and the most complex ground-based astronomy observatory.
“Today marks the recognition of the successful coalition of thousands of people from all over the world all working with the same goal: to build the world’s most advanced radio telescope to see into the Universe’s coldest, darkest places, where galaxies and stars and perhaps the building blocks of life are created.,” said ALMA director Thijs de Graauw.
ALMA is different from visible-light and infrared telescopes because it uses an array of linked antennas acting as a single giant telescope, and detects much longer wavelengths than those of visible light, rendering images unlike most others of the cosmos.
ALMA’s location provides a unique advantage, because of the extreme aridity of the Atacama and its altitude of 5000 metres.
It is in the same region as the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), due to begin operation in 2018.
The first images were of the Antennae Galaxies, a pair of colliding galaxies with dramatically distorted shapes some 70 million light-years away in the constellation Corvus.
ALMA’s view “reveals something that cannot be seen in visible light: the clouds of dense cold gas from which new stars form,” according to ALMA.
“This is the best submillimetre-wavelength image ever made of the Antennae Galaxies.”
“Observations like these open a new window on the submillimetre universe and will be vital in helping us understand how galaxy collisions can trigger the birth of new stars.”