AWESOME seems too small a word – because this is a picture of two galaxies colliding, 70 million light years from earth.
It is the remarkable first effort from the new $1.3billion radio telescope based in the Chilean Andes and it is a picture no other telescope on Earth or in space could capture.
The snap is the opening salvo from the brand new, and snappily-named, Atacama Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope (ALMA), which is currently running at only 25% of its full capacity.
The radio telescope is the most expensive ground-based telescope ever built - and the highest-altitude, at 16,000ft. Chile's Atacama desert was chosen as its location for its dryness and clarity.
American projeect manager Mark McKinnon said: “ALMA'S test views show us star-forming regions on a level of detail that no other telescope on Earth or in space has attained.
“It should allow us to see the formation of new solar systems.”
ALMA, as it is known, can see through cold clouds of dust that 'block the view' of traditional infrared/visible light telescopes.
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