Today is inauguration day for ALMA, the massive telescopic array that’s still under construction in Chile’s Atacama Desert. But just because it’s not finished doesn’t mean astronomers haven’t been using it. The $1.5 billion telescope has just peered into the deepest realms of the universe, revealing some of the most distant star-spawning galaxies ever discovered.
Once complete, the ALMA array will employ 66 antennas — but 16 antennas were all an international team of researchers needed to perform this initial scan. By using the gravitational lensing technique (in which the light from a distant galaxy is distorted and magnified by the gravitational force of a nearer foreground galaxy), the astronomers were able to catch a glimpse of the universe’s most primordial galaxies.
CONTINUED at io9. Written by George Dvorsky.