Highest telescope reveals wonders of the Universe
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Thursday 11 October 2012
A stunning image of a spiral shell of cosmic dust and gas around a red giant star was captured by astronomers using the world's highest terrestrial telescope.
The ALMA telescope is currently being completed on the remote Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes.
Located 5,100 metres above sea level, it has an array of 66 antennas each the size of a two-storey suburban house and can detect radiation in the millimetre-submillimetre wavelength range, between infrared and radio waves, which means that it can see structures that are invisible to the Hubble telescope.
Until this image was captured, astronomers had no idea that this red giant star, R Sculptoris, possessed a spiral-shaped halo of material, which indicates the presence of an unseen companion star.
"This is the first time we've ever seen a spiral of material coming out from a star, together with a surrounding shell," said Matthias Maercker, of the European Southern Observatory and University of Bonn in Germany.
Red giants evolve towards the end of a star's life and are major contributors to the dust and gas that form the raw materials of newly formed stars.
The ALMA telescope will be formally opened next year. Dr Maercker said it is already providing insights into some of the most mysterious regions of the Universe.
"We always expected ALMA to provide us with a new view of the Universe, but to be discovering unexpected new things already with one of the first sets of observations is truly exciting," he said.
interviewHer estate has become the nation's glossiest food empire
theatreTheatre's hitmaker Daniel Evans on 'Oliver' and bringing 'The Full Monty' to the stage
interviewThe producer and activist, Trudie Styler, whose film 'Filth' is up for five film awards, is tapping into the industry's neglected female talent
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
travelFor broadcaster Mishal Husain, a long-haul Club Med holiday was a chance for her family to explore its sense of 'zen' and 'animation'
Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
Ja Rule forced to deny leaving wife for prison cell mate
The 'terrorist' and the Tories: What did Nelson Mandela really think of Margaret Thatcher?
Crash pilot who threatened Ukip leader Nigel Farage found dead
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 David Duke: Former Ku Klux Klan leader expelled from Italy
- 4 Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- < Previous
- Next >
£70000 - £85000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: An excellent Transfer Pricin...
£30000 - £44000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Pro-Tax are recruiting for a...
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (WPF, WinForms, ...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Server Side De...