In some countries, more babies are born than in others. With galaxies, it’s the same: some galaxies have a much higher birth rate of new stars than others. Astronomers have studied six of those so-called starburst galaxies with the ALMA observatory. In five of them, they discovered large amounts of cool turbulent gas, surrounding the galaxies. ‘Turbulent’ means that the

The planet Saturn is known for its beautiful rings. But Saturn also has dozens of moons. The largest one is called Titan. It’s a bit larger than the planet Mercury and a bit smaller than Mars. And it’s the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere. Astronomers already knew that the atmosphere of Titan contains lots of

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

Suppose you live in a very big house, with lots of families, each one with many children. Every month or so, a new baby is born, so you know all about it. You wonder about childbirth in other houses. But the nearest big house is many miles away, and the houses in your neighborhood are all small, with just one

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