Astronomers expect ALMA to make extremely important contributions in a variety of scientific specialties.
- ALMA will be a premier tool for studying the first stars and galaxies that emerged from the cosmic "dark ages" billions of years ago. These objects now are seen at great cosmic distances, with most of their light stretched out to millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths by the expansion of the Universe. See ALMA Deep Field.
- In the more nearby Universe, ALMA will provide an unprecedented ability to study the processes of star and planet formation. Unimpeded by the dust that obscures visible-light observations, ALMA will be able to reveal the details of young, still-forming stars, and is expected to show young planets still in the process of developing. Link to Wolf simulation.
- In addition, ALMA will allow scientists to learn in detail about the complex chemistry of the giant clouds of gas and dust that spawn stars and planetary systems. Ready for more thorough info? Click here.
Many other astronomical specialties also will benefit from the new capabilities of ALMA, such as:
- Map gas and dust in the Milky Way and other galaxies.
- Investigate ordinary stars.
- Analyze gas from an erupting volcano on Jupiter's moon, Io.
- Study the origin of the solar wind.
The Horsehead Nebula at different wavelengths