ALMA at the SSE
ALMA SSE imaging mosaic

A mosaic of all the “interferometered” people and objects at the ALMA Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition stand…

ALMA Summer Science Exhibition Mosaic

.. nice bunch of people - I can spot myself in there a few times. If came along you might be able to spot yourself! 

ALMA observes a ring around the bright star Fomalhaut
ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

ALMA observes a ring around the bright star Fomalhaut

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

Fauna and flora in the Chilean Chajnantor plain

Although it is an ambitious scientific project activities on the ALMA site not only focus on building the world’s most advanced astronomical observatory but also on the historical and environmental aspects in this unique region. 

We have a beautiful, fully illustrated book about the fauna and flora in the Chilean Chajnantor plain that is free to download (PDF file, 6.25MB) that is bilingual Spanish/English.  

Have you been “interferometered” yet?

If not you should come down to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and you can see what you would look like through the eyes of the worlds most power radio telescope.

If you have then take a look at our twitpic feed… as you could have uploaded the result for the whole world to see just like my hand:

ALMA SSE06 Jul 2012 17:49:03 on Twitpic

— Sam George

Radio galaxy Centaurus A, as seen by ALMA

Venus before the transit..

Venus shortly before it moved in front of the Sun (the famous Venus transit) last month on June 5th. At that stage Venus was not visible through optical telescopes because its dark side was turned towards us. ALMA detects millimeter and submillimeter waves which are given off by the hot atmosphere of Venus (and of course even more strongly by the hot surface of the Sun). 

More on this on the ALMA press release. 

Some ALMA facts..

The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) is an array of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile.

When ALMA is completed it will consist of:

  • a giant array of 12-m antennas with baselines up to 16 km
  • an additional compact array of 7-m and 12-m antennas to greatly enhance ALMA’s ability to image extended targets

This is located on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000m altitude. Initially, it will observe at wavelengths in the range 3 mm to 400 μm (84 to 720 GHz).

The antennas can be moved around, in order to form arrays with different distributions of baseline lengths. More extended arrays will give high spatial resolution, more compact arrays give better sensitivity for extended sources.

Each antenna weighs: 115 tonnes! Moving these around at 5000m is not an easy feat. Two custom 28-wheel self-loading heavy haulers were developed. Each is 10 m wide, 20 m long and 6 m high, weighing 130 tonnes. They are powered by twin 500 kW diesel engines!

— Sam George

Virtual Tour of ALMA

Want to take a tour around ALMA? Well we can offer you a virtual tour of the site without the hassle of having to fly to Chile… ALMA virtual tour

ALMA in action…

A new window into the Universe has opened with the start of Early Science at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Watch the world’s most complex ground-based telescope in action and get a first look at its unique views of the Universe.

Robust ALMA antennas

The ALMA antennas are designed and built to face very rough conditions. ALMA is located in one of the driest locations on the Earth but very occasionally snow can cover the site…