With what eyes will ALMA observe?
The colors of light that our eyes can detect are justa small portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum.The universe emits light in many colors which are invisible to our eyes, from radio waves to gamma rays, and studies done in each band of the spectrum contribute uniquely to our knowledge.
Only recently has technology allowed us to fullfil the dream of opening a new vein of high-resolution exploration observing millimetric and submillimetric waves.
This wave portion is an excellent area of research for future astronomy because:
It is where half of all light is found. In addition to the cosmic microwave background (an almost uniform glow throughout the sky resulting from the Big Bang), the Universe emits almost all of its light in two color "arrays". We've been studying the rst one, visible light, for centuries with optical telescopes. The second, consists of far infrared colors blocked by the earth's atmosphere and which can be observed in high resolution using observatories in space. Thanks to the incredible transparency and stability of the site where it is located and the careful selection of frequency bands, ALMA will be able to observe some of this light from Earth.
This is where the "fun stu" is happening. Among the most profound mysteries in astronomy are the origins of phenomena such as galaxies, stars, planets and the molecules that nurture life. ALMA will observe the light emitted by cold objects in space, whether the invisible glow of clouds starting to warm up while stars form within them, or the "digital footprints" of complex molecules about which we know very little or which haven't even been discovered yet!
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