The World’s most powerful radio telescope will be officially inaugurated tomorrow

Antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes. (Credit: ESO/C. Malin)

Main point: The world’s most powerful radio telescope, opening tomorrow, will give high-clarity information about the formation of the alien planets other solar systems.

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A little about the telescope: Scientists have been working, i.e. adding more antennas reaching to 66 in number resulting in increased resolution, on the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), located in Northern Chile, for the past few years and the official inauguration of the radio telescope will take place tomorrow (March 13). This $1.3 billion telescope spreads over an area of about 16 square kilometers at an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, so this telescope is among the highest instruments on Earth. Most of the antennas are 40 feet (12 meters) in diameter and the images will be same as created by a single 46,000-foot-wide (14,000 meters) dish. Chile’s Atacama Desert is among the driest place on Earth and its sky is nearly free of light-distorting moisture.

The stream of the day’s events will run from 14:30 UT to around 16:00 UT. The stream will be available on the day at http://www.almaobservatory.org/inauguration/.

A little about the telescope functioning: Although, the telescope has not started working usually but has made some interesting scientific observations including the protoplanetary dust circling a brown dwarf or “failed” star that was observed last year.

After the addition of all 66 moveable antennas, astronomers will be able to look at the cold dust around the young stars and watch formation of planets with greater clarity with the help of the submillimeter wavelength — shorter than radio waves, but longer than visible light. Astronomers will be able to study young planets as small as the Earth’s mass, according to James Ulvestad, director of the National Science Foundation’s astronomical sciences division, during a news conference Tuesday (March 5).

“ALMA already has seen dust rings around stars that are very narrow, and by modeling … you can infer the dust ring has planets inside and outside the ring,” he said.

“Even though you can’t see the planet, you can see the effects of the planet. That would be the predominant way that ALMA will study extrasolar planets.”

This telescope will help to confirm the planets and other alien solar systems, which have also been confirmed by certain other powerful instruments such as Kepler space telescope.

Source:  ALMA inauguration, Space, LiveScience