ALMA looks at the Sun

ALMA has done something that you should never do yourself. The huge observatory in northern Chile has stared directly into the Sun. It’s something that no living person ever should try. The bright light of the Sun would damage your eyes. In the past, people have even become blind by looking into the Sun too long. ALMA has no real

These days, most people live in cities. Little wonder then that most people are also born in cities. But if you want to know where exactly in those cities most people were born, it’s not so easy to find out. With stars, it’s the same. Almost all stars are part of a galaxy. (For instance, our own Sun is part

The 66 dishes of ALMA – the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array – are being equipped with new receivers. They will improve the ability of ALMA to search for water in the Universe. On Earth, water is very important for life. Out there in the Universe, there’s also a lot of water. Some of the water is in the form of

Just like a large tree grows from a tiny seed, planets grow from tiny dust particles. First, the dust particles stick together to larger and larger ‘dust bunnies’. Later on, they grow into pebbles and rocks. Those larger objects feel each other’s gravity and eventually clutter together into planets. For the first time ever, astronomers have now measured the sizes

Most galaxies have black holes in their cores. Quite often, those huge black holes are pretty quiet, like the black hole in the core of our own Milky Way galaxy. But sometimes, huge amounts of gas and dust are drawn inward. This material becomes very hot and starts to glow, before it finally disappears into the black hole. Thus, these

Many galaxies are beautiful spirals, but IC 2163 is different. This galaxy looks a bit like a huge eye. The spiral arms are like giant eyelids, surrounding a central pupil. Using ALMA, astronomers have now discovered what’s going on here. IC 2163 is not alone. Close to it is another spiral galaxy, known as NGC 2207. The two galaxies have

Astronomers witness the birth of a stellar triple

Many stars are single, just like our own Sun. But there are also many twins and even triples in the Universe – two or three stars that were born together and keep each other company. Using ALMA, astronomers have now witnessed the birth of a triple star system. The new observations confirm the theory that there are two ways to

What happens if you throw little sticks or dry pine needles in a camp fire? The flames get brighther and the air gets warmer, right? Something similiar happens with new born stars! A few million years after they are born, most stars are surrounded by a disk of swirling gas and dust where planets and moons are born. From time

Black hole hidden within its own exhaust

Almost every galaxy in the Universe has a massive black hole in its core. With its gravity, the black hole sucks in material from its surroundings. It gobbles up clouds of gas and dust, and maybe even complete stars. The black hole’s ‘food’ first piles up in a thin, rotating disk of very hot material, before it plunges into the

Billions of years ago, the Universe experienced a baby boom of new stars. Back then, the number of stars that were born in galaxies was much higher than it is now. New observations by ALMA have revealed new information about those early galaxies. In particular, ALMA has found ‘pregnant’’ galaxies. They contain large amounts of gas from which stars can