To boldly show: World's most expensive telescope takes first pictures of deepest space in quest for more knowledge of outer universe
The shot is a teasing glimpse of the capabilities of the Atacama Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope - this picture has been taken using only a quarter of the antennae it will have when it comes into full operation in 2013.
But even now, this shot of the Antennae Galaxies is astonishing - showing off the telescope's exceptional power at detecting 'cold' matter using radio waves. The combined image shown would not be visible at all to visible-light and infrared telescopes.
The radio telescope is the most expensive ground-based telescope ever built - and the highest-altitude, at 16,000ft. Chile's Atacama desert was chosen as its location for its dryness and clarity.
American projeect manager Mark McKinnon said, 'Alma's test views show us star-forming regions on a level of detail that no other telescope on Earth or in space has attained.' It operates at higher sensititivity and higher resolution than any previous 'sub-millimetre' radio telescope - and should allow us to see the formation of new solar systems.
ALMA, as it is known, can see through cold clouds of dust that 'block the view' of traditional infrared/visible light telescopes.
As more of ALMA's antennae come online, its images will get sharper.
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