TLDR: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a group of 66 radio telescopes located in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It observes electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, providing valuable insights into star and planet formation.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a collection of 66 radio telescopes located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. These telescopes observe electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, which allows scientists to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena. ALMA is situated on the Chajnantor plateau, chosen for its high elevation and low humidity, which helps reduce noise and signal attenuation caused by Earth's atmosphere.
ALMA is a collaboration between Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile. It is the most expensive ground-based telescope in operation, costing about US$1.4 billion. ALMA began scientific observations in 2011 and has been fully operational since 2013.
The array of telescopes in ALMA provides high sensitivity and resolution, surpassing previous submillimeter telescopes. The telescopes can be moved across the desert plateau, allowing for a variable "zoom" and enhancing ALMA's imaging capabilities. The large number of antenna dishes in the array contributes to its high sensitivity.
ALMA has been instrumental in studying star and planet formation. It provides insights into the early stages of star birth and allows for detailed imaging of local star and planet formation. ALMA has also participated in the Event Horizon Telescope project, which produced the first direct image of a black hole.
ALMA is a global collaboration, with partners from Europe, North America, East Asia, and Chile. The project is funded by various organizations, including the European Southern Observatory, the National Science Foundation, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
In summary, ALMA is a powerful array of radio telescopes located in the Atacama Desert of Chile. It allows scientists to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including star and planet formation. ALMA's high sensitivity and resolution make it a valuable tool for astronomers around the world.