Astronomers and scientists have celebrated the completion of the Alma telescope array in Chile.
Costing $1.4 billion and consisting of an array of 66 giant radio telescopes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array ( Alma ) is the largest and most ambitious astronomical project ever undertaken. The array is located 5,000m above sea level in Chile's Atacama desert where it has a clear view of the heavens through the thin atmosphere.
With Alma switched on astronomers hope to photograph distant galaxies dating back to the beginning of the universe and to witness the formation of planets through observations of dust and gas clouds. "It will help us answer where we come from or whether we are alone in the Universe," said project director Thijs de Graauw.
"Vapour makes it difficult to see the stars. That is why this place was ideal," said Baltasar Vigo, a Spanish scientist with the project. To achieve the same result of Alma with a traditional telescope, scientists would need to build one so big, that it would take up 15 sq km in surface space. "Which is impossible," Vigo points out.
View: Full article | Source: BBC News
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