#RADIOIMAGEOFTHEWEEK

First Fringes of ALMA Prototypes

First Fringes of ALMA Prototypes

In March of 2007, two ALMA prototype antennas were linked together at the Very Large Array in New Mexico as an integrated system to observe a celestial object. Faint radio waves emitted by the planet Saturn were collected by these two ALMA antennas, then processed by new, state-of-the-art electronics to turn the antennas into a single, high-resolution telescope system, called an interferometer. Such pairs of antennas are the basic building blocks of multi-antenna imaging systems such as ALMA and the VLA. In such a system, each antenna is combined electronically with every other antenna to form a multitude of pairs. Each pair contributes unique information that is used to build a highly-detailed image of the astronomical object under observation.