- Education & Outreach
The Submillimeter Array (SMA) explores the universe by detecting light of colors which are not visible to the human eye. It receives millimeter and submillimeter radiation, so named because its wavelength ranges from 0.3 to 1.7 millimeter, or 0.01 to 0.07 inches.
The main source of millimeter and submillimeter radiation is cold interstellar material. It consists of gas, dust and small rock-like bodies. This material is also the substance out of which stars and planets are formed. Detecting submillimeter emission therefore plays a vital role for studying the birth and death of stars. When stars are born out of dense interstellar clouds, their first visible light is trapped within them. The SMA can see into those clouds and acquire detailed images of the submillimeter light and thereby witness the birth of a star where optical telescopes or human eyes can just see darkness.
Learn more at the SMA web site.