Telescopes offer glimpse into beginnings of universe


Radio telescope antennas of the ALMA project.


Martin Bernetti

An observatory way up in the Chilean Andes has begun to probe the mysteries of the universe.

The most complex land-based observatory in the world, ALMA will allow astronomers to study the thick clouds of dust and debris where the earliest stars, galaxies and planets were made, reports EFE.

When it is fully operational in 2013, the observatory will find a new galaxy every three minutes.

Modern optical telescopes, like the Hubble Space Telescope, can't see through the clouds of dust. ALMA can detect radiation emitted by the clouds at sub-millimeter wavelengths.

The observatory — which stands for Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array — was built in the Atacama Desert because it has year-round clear skies and is one of the driest places in the world, reports the Guardian.

After years of construction and a $1.3 billion price tag, the observatory opened today for astronomers.

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