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The Astronomical Machines of the DesertDeep in the Atacama…

The Astronomical Machines of the Desert

Deep in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, where there is little life, metal machines gaze endlessly into the universe. These great machines work together seamlessly to give humanity a better understanding of the cosmos. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (known as ALMA) is an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile.

These telescopes are not the kind that you can easily look into, they are radio telescopes. This means that they are able to see light past the visible spectrum and probe into a rare part of space that we could not usually see.

But why, you may ask, are we placing radio telescopes on earth? One reason is that they are not effected by our atmosphere. These specialized telescopes allow for the observation of energetic objects such as pulsars and quasars.

After the telescopes gather data, it must be stored. This is done with a super computer known as the ALMA correlator, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the
world. The full system has four identical
quadrants, with over 134 million processors, performing up to 17
quadrillion operations per second.

All of this advanced technology allows ALMA to produce images such as these:

Credit: ESO/Berkley/ALMA

Source: Astronomical Wonders

The Astronomical Machines of the DesertDeep in the Atacama…

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