A new telescope is starting to look at the universe. ALMA is the most powerful millimetre/submillimetre wavelength telescope in the world. These are longer wavelengths roughly about 1000 times longer than visible light wavelengths. Using these wavelengths ALMA allows astronomers to study really cold objects in the universe such as dense clouds of cosmic dust and gas from which stars and planets form as well as distant objects in the early universe.
AlMA an array of link antennas acting as one giant telescope. The image is therefore very unlike more familiar pictures from Hubble or other telescopes. The telescope is operating at the moment with only 12 antennas which are much closer than they will be when the telescope is complete which makes the new image just a taster of what is to come.
The antenna galaxies were the first galaxies to have the pleasure of being imaged byALMA. These views cannot be seen in visible light.ALMA only accepted about 100 or so projects for the first nine months now over 900 proposals from astronomers around the world have been submitted. The new projects will be chosen on scientific merit as it is impossible for the telescope to carry out them all.
The telescope will help with searching for habitable planets around other stars as the hunt for life normally begins with water. Craggy ice chunks could occur in debris disks which are dust gas and rocks around stars. The gas and dust disc around HD142527 will be the first to be looked at.
ALMA could also see through dust and gas and therefore it will look at the super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It is 4 million times the mass of our Sun and may provide significant discoveries.