A collision between two galaxies, the first image of Alma
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A collision between two galaxies, the first image of Alma

Alma : Canada | Oct 04, 2011 at 10:51 AM PDT
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Alma Observatory

He 'opened my eyes' for the first time, the most complex astronomical observatory on Earth, the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA), and photographed a titanic clash between the galaxies. The image, obtained during the testing phase of a telescope is still under construction, and 'was published by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The image has as its protagonists 'Antennas', two spiral galaxies (called NGC 4038 and 4039) and distant in collision about 70 million light-years away in the constellation of the Raven. Thanks to Alma was possible to discover something that would never be identified in visible light: the cold and dense gas clouds in galaxies and in the heart of the chaotic region of the clash from which new stars are formed.

This 'just a taste of the vision of the universe that Alma will be able to offer when' completed in 2013, on the plain of Chajnantor, in northern Chile at an altitude of 5,000 meters. Currently, in fact, the array of radio antennas dishes (diameter of 7 and 12 meters) is composed of about one third of the 66 planned. These receivers are connected together as a single, large radio telescope to observe simultaneously the same patch of sky radiation in the band millimeter and sub millimeter, which has a wavelength about 1000 times greater than that of visible light.

The project sees Alma broad international participation between the United States, Europe and Japan. Italy plays a role of first level, both scientifically and technologically. In fact based at the Institute of Radio Astronomy of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) of a 7 Alma Regional Center (ARCS) of the European network. The company Thales Alenia Space leads the industry consortium (France, Italy and Germany), which is the European contribution to the program, and has signed a contract for the supply of 25 radio telescopes with a diameter of 12 meters, which will be installed at the site known as Liano de Chajnantor in the Chilean Andes.

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A collision between two galaxies, the first image of Alma
The first tests of the radio telescope under construction in Chile
mus1423 is based in Karāchi, Sind, Pakistan, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.
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