Imaging Cosmic Origins: ALMA

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Oct 12, 2005 - Imaging Cosmic Origins: The Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA)
-  Dr. James Di Francesco, NRC-HIA

Artist's conception of the antennas for the Atacama Large Millimetre ArrayAlthough the universe is filled with stars and galaxies, these objects sit within cold, dark, seemingly empty spaces that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The cold interstellar dust and gas within these spaces, however, can emit faintly at high-frequency radio wavelengths; observing this form of light gives us direct probes into the mechanics of star and galaxy origins. Though tremendous progress has been made in recent years toward detecting these faint, interstellar glows, telescope sensitivity and detail resolution have always been fundamental limitations.

The Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), a powerful, new, multinational observatory under construction on the high plateaux of northern Chile, will make a significant impact on modern astrophysics by allowing extremely sensitive observations of exquisite detail. Conceived as an array of up to 64 high frequency radio antennas, each 12 m in diameter and combined electronically to form a single super-telescope, ALMA will have up to 100x the sensitivity of current telescopes and will be able to discern details at levels exceeding the capability of the Hubble Space Telescope. Indeed, ALMA has been considered the highest priority for a new ground-based observatory in recent Canadian and American studies of future astronomical research.

Canada has partnered with the U.S., along with Europe, Japan and Chile, to begin building ALMA. For example, major hardware contributions have been or are being developed at the National Research Council's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, and important software development has occurred at the University of Calgary through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. This public presentation will expand on the search for cosmic origins, the scientific basis for building this incredible instrument, and highlight its current status and future.

Imaging Cosmic Origins: ALMA - presentation

bullet Slide 25 movie ALMA site animation (64Mb Quicktime movie)
bullet Slide 37 movie Origin of stars animation - daytime (2Mb Quicktime movie)
bullet Slide 41 movie Redshift animation (11Mb Quicktime movie)
bullet Slide 48 movie ALMA site animation - sunset 1 (31Mb Quicktime movie)
bullet Slide 57 movie ALMA site animation - sunset 2 (23Mb Quicktime movie)

NRC-HIA Atacama Large Millimetre Array

James Di Francesco CV


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