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FAQs

What can we see?

What can we see?

ALMA explores newly-born galaxies as far as 13 billion light years away, the birth of another solar system, and interstellar organic molecules in optically-invisible dark regions of the universe´╝Ä
For further information of ALMA, please read "ALMA Telescope 06 Scientific Goals."

How well can we see?

ALMA achieves the resolution of 0.01 arcsec (1 arcsec=1/3600 of a degree of arc). The resolution of ALMA is 10 times better than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. With such amazingly high resolution, ALMA is capable of recognizing a structure of a size equivalent to the earth's orbit in a primordial solar system if there is such an object in Taurus dark nebula 400 light years away. Furthermore, ALMA is capable of imaging the structure of every galaxy anywhere in the universe. This resolution is equivalent to human eyesight that can see a coin at a distance of about 500 km. ALMA has a field of view of 20 arcsec and obtains an image of about 2000x2000 pixels per view.

What is the difference between ALMA and Subaru telescope?

While optical telescopes like Subaru telescope observe structures of the universe, such as stars, planets, and galaxies, ALMA observes interstellar matters that form these structures and their formation process. For example, Subaru targets giant planets, while ALMA aims to explore the formation of planets, evolution of our solar system, etc.

What is the difference between ALMA and Nobeyama 45-m radio telescope?

The Nobeyama 45-m radio telescope is still one of the world's top millimeter telescopes after more than 20 years since its completion with remarkable results in modern science history, such as discovery of super massive black holes, protoplanetary discs, and protogalaxy candidates. Although the 45-m telescope achieved many unprecedented results, it was necessary to develop a new submillimeter telescope with higher resolution and sensitivity to advance our researches further. The technologies acquired with the 45-m telescope have been evolved into ALMA that achieves remarkably higher performances. The 45-m telescope is continuously used for observations of astronomical objects around the north celestial pole that are not observable with ALMA.

Does ALMA observe celestial objects in the northern sky, too?

Since the ALMA observation site is located just on the Tropic of Capricorn, ALMA covers not only the southern sky, but also extensive areas of the northern sky. ALMA shares 60% of its observation area with Subaru telescope (at El=30 degrees or larger), and joint observation using these two telescopes is also possible.

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