June 7, 2020

18.03.10: ALMA in Action.

A unique trio of antennae has been successfully installed in the high Chilean desert. ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, is a series of 12-meter diameter antennae that will scan the sky between the infrared and radio wavelengths. This area of the spectrum is strongly absorbed by atmospheric water vapor, hence the high and dry locale of 9,500 on the Chanjnantor plateau. Recently, engineers linked the first of three antennae to observe an astronomical source; quasar 1924-292. The link up is crucial to ALMA’s use as an interferometer, and should start producing its first scientific results in 2011. Ultimately, ALMA will be a series of 66 dishes working in unison to probe the cosmos.