ALMA Telescope – Update (March, 2023)

ALMA telescope is to get a new brain. The ALMA is set to get a hardware and software upgrade for the collection of more data and produce sharper images. The upgrades are estimated to cost 37 million USD. These upgrades will be made over 5 years.

ALMA telescope upgrade

The correlator and the supercomputer in the ALMA telescope will be replaced. The correlator and supercomputer in the telescope function as a single unit. The unit gets input from the antennas and helps the astronomers in producing high-quality images.

Why was the ALMA telescope upgraded?

The correlators and the supercomputer units in the ALMA are one of the fastest supercomputer units in the world. The units are being replaced to increase the operational speed of ALMA. In the next 10 years, the speed is to be doubled and will be quadrupled eventually.

What is the ALMA telescope?

The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array is a cutting-edge radio telescope featuring 66 high-precision antennas. It spans a distance of up to 16 km. This telescope is situated in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It studies dim and distant galaxies and stars using millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths that can penetrate through dust clouds.

Who operates the ALMA telescope?

It is operated by a partnership among the USA, 16 European countries, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile. It has been functioning since 2013. It has been instrumental in the discovery of starburst galaxies and dust formation inside supernova 1987A among others.

Why is ALMA located in the Atacama desert?

The telescope is located at a height of 16,570 feet. It is essential to isolate the telescope from worldly noises. This is because; the telescope observes waves that are in the range of millimetres and sub-millimetres. These waves are highly susceptible even to the water vapours in the earth’s atmosphere! The Atacama Desert is the driest place in the world. And the nights are clear here.

Notable discoveries made by ALMA

The telescope provided detailed images of protoplanetary discs around HL Tauri. It is a star in the Taurus constellation. It is 450 light years away from the earth.

In 2015, ALMA discovered a phenomenon called “Einstein Rings”. This occurs when the light from a massive galaxy is obstructed by a massive object on its way to the earth.




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