September 2, 2013
Charles Blue, Public Information Officer
Atomic Carbon Gas Seen with Band 8
Full Caption 1
ALMA has opened another window on the Universe as astronomers successfully used the new Band 8 receivers to observe the distribution of atomic carbon in a planetary nebula dubbed NGC 6302. The receivers were developed by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).
A planetary nebula is the glowing remains of a star several times more massive than our Sun. An image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in visible light shows a double cone of gas ejected from this dying star. ALMA with the Band 8 receivers looked at the center of this nebula and revealed that the distribution of carbon atoms is concentrated in a small region.
Previously, only single-dish telescope observations have been made at this frequency band (500 GHz). The new ALMA observations, using only a portion of the telescope's eventual full complement of 66 antennas, had more than four times the resolution of the single-dish observations. By installing the new receivers into all the ALMA antennas, the resolution will become 400 times better.
Yutaro Sekimoto, an associate professor at NAOJ and the leader of the Band 8 receiver development team at the NAOJ's advanced Technology Center said, "I deeply appreciate the long and hard efforts of all staff to realize ALMA observation of atomic carbon. I expect further ALMA observations will unveil the evolution process of interstellar matter."
ALMA Band 8 Receiver Cartridge
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ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.
The full press release from the NAOJ is here.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
Image Caption 1: Planetary Nebula NGC 6302. The image is the composite of ALMA Band 8 (yellow) and the Hubble Space Telescope (gray). The full image includes an upper left image of NGC 6302 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and a lower left panel showing the line profile of atomic carbon. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope