From newborn planets to entire galaxies, we’re seeing the Universe as never before.
The idea of a modern telescope is simple: collect light from a distant object, at high resolution, and record it.
But with an array of telescopes, you can do even better.
Instead of the number of wavelengths fitting across a single dish, your resolution is determined by the distance between dishes.
ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, consists of 66 large radio telescopes networked together.
Combined, they measure this long-wavelength light to reveal astronomical details as never before.
Ultra-distant galaxies are better seen with ALMA than even Hubble.
Molecular gas signatures are revealed.
Even their internal rotations can be measured.
Dying stars in our own galaxy create remarkably intricate patterns in the surrounding gas.
Young, nearby stars, like Fomalhaut, emit radio light via the protoplanetary disk surrounding it.
ALMA captures the birth cries of individual stars.
ALMA showcases the trails of gas that cool and contract to form new stars during galaxy collisions.
But most impressively, ALMA reveals unprecedented views of planetary formation around new stars.
It maps out the locations of newly-forming planets via gaps in their protoplanetary disks.
ALMA’s lessons provide educational insights into how our own Solar System formed.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the astronomical story of an image, phenomenon, or observatory in visuals and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.