A young star in the constellation Sagittarius (the Archer) is orbited by two infant planets. The planets were found by ALMA. They’re about twice as large as the planet Saturn in our own solar system. Planets orbiting other stars have been found before. But in this case, the planets are still forming. They’re baby planets. The two baby planets have

ALMA sets a dusty distance record

ALMA has set a new record. It has observed a galaxy known as A2744_YD4 – the most distant galaxy ever studied by the 66-dish observatory. The galaxy is so remote that its light took a whopping 13.2 billion years to reach Earth. This means that astronomers are seeing the galaxy not as it is now, but as it appeared 13.2

The stunning spiral pattern in this ALMA image is produced by a binary star – two stars orbiting each other. The size and shape of the spiral provides astronomers with information about the binary’s orbit. Apparently, this orbit is not circular, but elliptical – very elongated. The spiral pattern was already observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. Now,

40-year-old supernova is efficient dust factory

Forty years ago, in February 1987, a cosmic explosion took place in the southern sky. It was first discovered by astronomers Ian Shelton and Oscar Duhalde, at an observatory in Chile. But this was not the ALMA observatory. Back then, ALMA hadn’t been built yet. No one even had serious plans to construct a huge array of antennas to observe

ALMA witness stellar growth spurt

Have you ever experienced a growth spurt? Three times within a year or so, you need new T-shirts or new shoes, just because you’re growing so fast. It happens with teenagers, but also with baby stars. By comparing new ALMA observations with older measurements from another observatory, astronomers have discovered that a massive proto-star experienced a huge growth spurt over

Do you see the large ‘hole’ in this ALMA image? It looks as if someone cut a circular hole in a blue veil, with a large cluster of galaxies right behind the hole. But appearances can be deceiving. In fact, the ‘blue veil’ originates behind the galaxy cluster. It’s the so-called cosmic background radiation –the faint remnant from the energy

Clean gaps hint at new planets

If you don’t clean your room, dust will settle everywhere. The same is true for space. Young stars are surrounded by flat disks of gas and dust. Without any cleaning going on, the dust will spread all over the disk. So, what about the empty regions in this ALMA image of a young star? ALMA detected the millimeter waves of

Baby stars blow away their nursery

Human babies can scream and cry, but they’re not strong enough to tear down their own cot, let alone the nursery where they’re born. With baby stars, however, it’s different. Astronomers have discovered a stellar nursery that’s partly blown apart by its new inhabitants. Apparently, the birth of a star can be a very explosive event. Stars are usually born

Introducing DeeDee, the Distant Dwarf

You may remember that Pluto is now classed as something called a “Dwarf Planet”. As well as Pluto, there are four other dwarf planets in our Solar System: Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. Plus, there may be a new member joining the family very soon – an object nicknamed ‘DeeDee’. But what is a dwarf planet? Dwarf planets are small

Welcome #WAWUA – A New Animated Series from ALMA

Can you imagine learning about the mysteries of the Universe through attractive animations? With #WAWUA it is possible! In short episodes, which last two minutes each, this animated series explains how ALMA uses 66 antennas as though they were one single antenna, how it sees the invisible and captures the presence of complex molecules in far away interstellar clouds to