Have you ever woken up before sunrise and seen that it was very foggy outside, but then the Sun came up and quickly burned the fog away? Well, something similar happened in the Universe when it was very young. Back when the first stars and galaxies formed, the Universe was filled with a thick fog of hydrogen gas. However, the

ALMA puts a distant black hole on the scales

Using ALMA observations, astronomers have weighed a black hole in the core of a distant galaxy. It turns out to be 140 million times more massive than the sun. Almost every single galaxy in the universe has a large black hole in its core. Black holes are mysterious objects. They have so much gravity that they suck in gas clouds

How to ‘un-distort’ a galaxy

A distant galaxy that looked like a near-perfect ring to ALMA turns out to be a chaotic collection of gas clumps instead. Some of these gas clumps are only 200 light years across. Never before astronomers have seen so much detail at such a large distance in the universe – more than 11 billion light years away. Suppose you would

Did you notice that new born babies are eating all the time? Maybe that’s why they grow up so fast. One Taiwanese lullaby sings that my baby grows an inch every night! Stars form from massive clouds of dust and gas in space. They eat gas, not milk, to grow up. It’s common that several stars grow up together. But

ALMA finds globular cluster in the making

Globular clusters are the dinosaurs of the universe. A globular cluster is a huge, ball-shaped collection of many hundreds of thousands of stars – something like a cosmic disco ball. Like dinosaurs, most globular clusters are very large. And also like dinosaurs, they were ‘born’ long, long ago, when the universe was in its infancy. Surprisingly, astronomers working with ALMA

Monster black hole has strong magnetic field

Black holes are dangerous. They have so much gravity that they pull everything inward that comes too close. And when something falls into a black hole, it can never escape again. Luckily, all black holes in the universe are very far away. We don’t need to worry about them. But did you know that black holes also blow matter outward?

Over the past twenty years, scientists have discovered that most stars in the universe are accompanied by planets, including small, rocky planets similar to our own Earth. Using ALMA, astronomers have now found evidence that these distant planetary systems may also harbour the building blocks of life. Just to be sure: no one has found extraterrestrial life yet. And no

Gravity bends light of distant galaxy into a ring

Have you ever looked at yourself in a distorting mirror? It’s fun! Depending on the shape of the mirror, you will appear to be very thin, or extremely short and fat. You can also watch the reflection of your face in a spoon. It looks weird! Every curved mirror creates a distorted view. But the same is true for a

You know Juno? Yes, thanks to ALMA!

On 19 October 2014, ALMA has made ten images of asteroid Juno. The images were made over a period of four hours. During that time, Juno rotated around its axis, so ALMA has seen different parts of the space rock. It’s as if someone took photos of your head while you were slowly turning around – the photos would show

Each one of the tiny lights twinkling in the night sky is a gigantic burning star. Like people, these stars come in different colours and sizes. Some are 10 times smaller than the Sun; others can be 300 times more massive! One of the most intriguing questions about the Universe that still needs answering is how such a wide variety