Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 05:59 pm
a new "super-telescope" will be asseembled in the high andes mountains in chile .
it should allow scientists to look at parts of our uiverse obscured by dust - it will be able to look "behind" the dust clouds .

ALMA will be sitting in the andes mountains on moveable platforms :


The first European-built receiver for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (Alma) is due to leave the UK for its permanent home in Chile.

Alma will be the largest radio telescope array to be built, comprising 66 12m-wide antenna dishes.

The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (Ral) in Oxfordshire will assemble and test 26 of the receivers that detect the faint signals from the antennas.

The first receiver is expected to arrive at the Alma site on Saturday.

The array will look in the sub-millimetre wavelength range to learn more about the formation of stars and galaxies.

"Observing sub-millimetre waves allows you to see parts of the universe that are obscured by dust," says Mark Harman, technical manager for the receiver project at Ral.

"The Hubble telescope obviously has an impressive resolution, but it can't see the sub-millimetre radiation from behind these dust clouds."

full story :

from National Radio Astronomy Observatory :

Atacama Large Millimeter Array
The Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA, is an international collaboration to develop a world-class telescope composed of a group of 64 radio-telescope antennas that will work together to study the universe from a site in the foothills of Chile's Andes Mountains. Each of ALMA's 64 antenna dishes will measure 39 feet (12 m) wide. The ALMA antennas will be movable. At its largest, the array will measure 10 miles wide (14 km), and at its smallest, only 500 feet (150 m). The ALMA correlator, or specialized computer that combines the information received by the antennas, will perform an astounding 16,000 million-million (1.6x1016) operations per second. ALMA's location in the Atacama Desert is one of the highest, driest places on Earth, making it ideal for astronomical research at millimeter wavelengths, which are absorbed by atmospheric moisture. When completed (in 2011), ALMA will be the largest and most capable imaging array of telescopes in the world. For more information, please visit the ALMA homepage.

( Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and ALMA/ESO/NRAO/NAOJ)

see here for outstanding picture gallery :

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