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Countdown: Top Ten ALMA observations of 2019

27 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
Countdown: Top Ten ALMA observations of 2019
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The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a huge collection of telescopes in the northern desert of Chile. Unlike visible light telescopes, which are sensitive to the kind of light we see, ALMA looks at much longer wavelength light, far out past the infrared and nearly into radio waves.

The 66 dishes have incredible sensitivity and resolution, so they can see fine and faint details in all kinds of astronomical objects. At those wavelengths ALMA detects cold gas and dust, which are critical to understanding things like how black holes eat matter, how stars are born, atmospheric patterns in planets, and far more.

The dishes are at an elevation of over 5,000 meters, getting them above a lot of our interfering atmosphere, allowing them to make incredible observations. The information they collect is so amazing that the folks at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (one of the partners running ALMA) wanted to create a top ten list of observations made by the array in 2019. To my great delight, they asked me to come up with the list, write a short narrative about each one, and then record a voiceover so that they could create video for them all!

That ...

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