ALMA has arrived, and she is enormous. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, was officially opened today in the high desert of the Chilean Andes. Guests including the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, gathered to celebrate the the largest ground-based astronomical project in the world.
ALMA consists of 64 of these huge antennas, shown here against a backdrop of the southern Milky Way on the left and the Magellanic Clouds at the top. They work together to produce images of extended objects in the night sky such as giant cosmic clouds of gas and dust.
Even during its construction, ALMA has been working hard. With only a dozen of its antennas online, it produced stunning images of the colliding Antennae Galaxies and a glowing red, spiral star system.