Image of the Day: Moon & the Arc of the Milky Way at Space Observatory Center in Chilean Andes


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ESO's Stéphane Guisard captured this stuning panorama from the site of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, in the Chilean Andes. The 5000-metre-high and extremely dry Chajnantor plateau offers the perfect place for this state-of-the-art telescope, which studies the Universe in millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light.

Numerous giant antennas dominate the center of the image. When ALMA is complete, it will have a total of 54 of these 12-meter-diameter dishes. Above the array, the arc of the Milky Way serves as a resplendent backdrop.

When the panorama was taken, the Moon was lying close to the centre of the Milky Way in the sky, its light bathing the antennas in an eerie night-time glow. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the biggest of the Milky Way's dwarf satellite galaxies, appear as two luminous smudges in the sky on the left. A particularly bright meteor streak gleams near the Small Magellanic Cloud.

On the right, some of ALMA’s smaller 7-meter antennas — twelve of which will be used to form the Atacama Compact Array — can be seen. Still further on the right shine the lights of the Array Operations Site Technical Building. And finally, looming behind this building is the dark, mountainous peak of Cerro Chajnantor.

The Daily Galaxy via ESO


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