ALMA is short for (Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array). It’s a powerful telescope located in Chile, which is starting to unlock information about how galaxies and solar systems were formed.
It has 66 large dish antennas moving in perfect synchrony. By combining the data collected, ALMA constructs images comparable to those that a much larger telescope would see.
Gianni Marconi, an astronomer with the project, explained: “ALMA is complementing classical astronomy. ALMA is investigating a wavelength that is in the millimetre and submillimetre range. You receive this radiation that is very faint because it is coming from very far away and this is the point of using ALMA. You need a lot of antennas; you need a place where the radiation is not disturbed by the atmosphere.”
The telescope is a joint project including partners from North America, Europe and East Asia. At the moment scientists are studying massive stars of mysterious formation, comet collisions, the birth of planetary systems, galaxies merging, and other mechanisms regulating our universe.