This image marks the opening of a new window on the submillimetre universe with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). The first released image from ALMA is overlaid here with a beautiful view of the Antennae Galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (CERN Courier December 2006 p14). The on-going merger of the two spiral galaxies (NGC 4038 and 4039) triggers intense star formation producing bright, blue stars out of dense clouds of cold gas, which are now revealed for the first time by ALMA at wavelengths of 0.87 mm (in yellow) and 2.6 mm (in red). The quite clumpy view by ALMA – taken with "only" 12 antennae in a compact arrangement – is just a taster for what is to come and does not reflect the array’s potential to surpass Hubble in sharpness by 2013, when the full array of 66 antennae built in Europe, North America and East Asia will be installed at 5000 m altitude in the desert of Chajnantor, Chile (CERN Courier March 2009 p11).
Image credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Source: ESO.