IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th February, 2023 Science and Technology

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  • Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) is set to get software and hardware upgrades that will help it collect much more data and produce sharper images than ever before

What is ALMA?

  • ALMA is a state-of-the-art telescope that studies celestial objects at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — they can penetrate through dust clouds and help astronomers examine dim and distant galaxies and stars out there.
  • It also has extraordinary sensitivity, which allows it to detect even extremely faint radio signals.
  • The telescope consists of 66 high-precision antennas, spread over a distance of up to 16 km.
  • ALMA is an international partnership amongst Europe, the United StatesCanadaJapanSouth KoreaTaiwan, and Chile.
  • ALMA provides insight on star birth during the early Stelliferous eraand detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.


  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) — is a radio telescope comprising 66 antennas located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. ALMA began scientific observations in the second half of 2011.
  • The array has been constructed on the 5,000 m (16,000 ft) elevation Chajnantor plateau - near the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment.
  • This location was chosen for its high elevation and low humidity, factors which are crucial to reduce noise and decrease signal attenuation due to Earth's atmosphere.
  • Moreover, the desert is the driest place in the world, meaning most of the nights here are clear of clouds and free of light-distorting moisture — making it a perfect location for examining the universe.

Notable discoveries made by ALMA

  • With ALMA’s capability of capturing high-resolution images of gas and dust from which stars and planets are formed and materials that could be building blocks of life, scientists are trying to find answers to age-old questions of our cosmic origins.
  • One of the earliest findings came in 2013 when it discovered starburst galaxies earlier in the universe’s history than they were previously thought to have existed. These newly discovered galaxies represent what today’s most massive galaxies looked like in their energetic, star-forming youth.
  • Next year, ALMA provided detailed images of the protoplanetary disc surrounding HL Tauri — a very young T Tauri star in the constellation Taurus, approximately 450 light years from Earth — and “transformed the previously accepted theories about the planetary formation.
  • In 2015, the telescope helped scientists observe a phenomenon known as the Einstein ring, which occurs when light from a galaxy or star passes by a massive object en route to the Earth, in extraordinary detail.



Q) Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a. The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) — is a radio telescope comprising 66 antennas located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

b. ALMA is an international partnership amongst Europe, the United States, Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile.

I. Only a

II. Only b

III. Both a and b

IV. Neither a nor b

Answer: Option I