The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has just received a “heart transplant,” high in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. ALMA, the most complex astronomical observatory ever built on Earth, installed a new hydrogen maser. Funded by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), this upgrade marks an essential investment, setting a new standard in reliability for observations.
A maser is an advanced atomic clock that uses the properties of the hydrogen atom to provide an extremely precise and stable frequency reference. This precision is crucial for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations, enabling the synchronization of cosmic signals received by networks of telescopes spread across the globe. A brief, but fascinating, video brings together many voices across the international ALMA team to share the process of the replacement and its importance,
The new maser, now the heartbeat of ALMA’s operations, ensures a high level of accuracy essential for detailed explorations of the Universe. ALMA is a cornerstone of international astronomy as part of the Event Horizon Telescope, and other Very Long Baseline Interferometry studies, most famously revealing the first image of black hole M87* and Sagittarius A*, at the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy.
The integration of the new maser into the ALMA Array was aided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory. The original maser remains operating as a backup, strengthening ALMA’s resilience against potential system failures and ensuring reliable, continuous astronomical research. This upgrade solidifies ALMA’s position at the forefront of astronomical research, enabling astronomers to uncover more mysteries of the Universe with greater accuracy and reliability.
About ALMA & NRAO
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).
ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.
NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
More News From Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration has released new images of supermassive black hole M87*. A recent paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics presents new images from data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and several other instruments within the EHT. These new images show a bright ring surrounding a deep central depression, “the shadow of the black hole,” as predicted by general relativity. Excitingly, the brightness peak of the ring has shifted by about 30º compared to the first images, which is consistent with scientists’ theoretical understanding of variability from turbulent material around black holes.
An international team of astronomers have found ring and spiral structures in very young planetary disks, demonstrating that planet formation may begin much earlier than once thought. The results were presented today at the 243rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
An international team of astronomers has revealed mysterious star formation at the far edge of the galaxy M83. This research was presented today in a press conference at the 243rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in New Orleans, Louisiana. The research used several instruments operated by the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), along with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s (NAOJ) Subaru Telescope and the NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX).
More News Related to ALMA
Within the framework of the scientific conference “ALMA 10 years: Past, Present, Future,” which is bringing together 180 astronomers…
ALMA observes highest resolution dust polarization image ever taken of HL Tauri’s protoplanetary disk, the deepest polarization image of any disk captured thus far.
An international team of astronomers has collaborated to improve the capabilities of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), one of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Scientists from the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Joint ALMA Observatory, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), and European Southern Observatory have achieved the highest resolution observation since ALMA began operations, in one of the most challenging array configurations. The results are published today in the Astrophysical Journal.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration has published new results that describe for the first time how light from the edge of the supermassive black hole M87* spirals as it escapes the black hole’s intense gravity, a signature known as circular polarization.