Alma is big – the largest astronomical project in the world – so it can collect lots of photons. In particular, it can collect enough to see things that are very faint; sources of light such as galaxies, stars and cosmic dust billions of light years away. Since photons travel at the speed of light, when you look at very distant objects you are also looking back in time because the light takes millions or billions of years to reach you.
Alma will be able to see dust which is about 13bn light years away. The universe is about 13.5bn years old, so this dust is “only” about half a billion years after the big bang. The universe was different then. Well, you would expect it to be. Certainly a 13-and-a-half-year-old boy is rather different from a six-month-old baby.
It has given us a better view of the Antennae Galaxies, which are about 45 million light years away. Now, this doesn’t square with a ‘literalist’ view of Scripture, but then again, Scripture doesn’t really care about this anyway. Now, YEC’ers will tell us that God created this light ‘in transit’, but that creates issues. First, paradoxes. We are seeing something that has never existed, and further, receiving the photons, heat, and other things which never existed but now do. Second, if this is the case, then YHWH is the divine trickster.
- Alma will reveal secrets of the universe previously hidden to astronomers (guardian.co.uk)
- The ALMA radio telescope observatory in the Atacama Desert, Chile (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘Highest telescope’ begins quest (bbc.co.uk)
- First images from ALMA (eurekalert.org)
- World’s Most Complex Radio Telescope Snaps Stunning 1st Photo of the Cosmos (foxnews.com)