Anomalously arid highlands of the Atacama region in Chile, astronomers have been chosen for a long time and firmly, and now it will become a center for studying the presence of moisture in other, far-off worlds. There is practically no water vapor in the air on the Chakhnantor Plateau – there will be no disturbance for five new modules of the ALMAtelescope .
Innovative receivers operate at frequencies of 163-211 GHz and wavelengths of 1.42-1.83 mm, at the very end of the low-energy electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, they are detectors of molecules of four chemical compounds: H2O (water), CS (carbon monosulfide), HNC (hydrogen isocyanide) and SiO (silicon oxide). The basis of life and the subject of interest in the science of astrochemistry – their presence in the atmosphere of other planets is considered an excuse to believe that life can be there. And vice versa.
In the initial list of goals of the modernized telescope – the fruit of the collision of two galaxies, the star formation Arp 220, the red supergiant Sgr B2 (N) in the constellation Sagittarius and the star VY of the Great Dog, one of the largest known to us. Scientists do not just want to find water in the universe – they expect to find it where no one has looked before. For example, in “stellar cradles”, near black holes, in the void of intergalactic space.
The first tests of new ALMA receivers have reassured astronomers, therefore in the near future more such devices will be mounted. And there will be a “big search for water” in the far space.