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With 66 antennas ALMA, short for "Atacama Large Millimeter Array", captures the life of the stars. The telescope network is located at over 5000 meters altitude in the Chilean Atacama Desert and directs its parabolic mirrors in the sky. The precision equipment of the European Southern Observatory measures the light emitted by large cool molecular clouds in space. The cold clouds are of interest to astronomers because new stars are created in the dense gas and dust regions. Visible light, however, does not reach the earth from these starweights, so the ALMA telescopes capture electromagnetic radiation at the boundary between infrared and radio radiation: millimeter waves. Moisture in the earth's atmosphere dampen it. Therefore, the telescopes were built in the extremely dry heights of the Atacama.

Photo: S. Otarola / ESO

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