The Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy  (CARMA)

© Jens Kauffmann


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The Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) is a university-based interferometer encompassing 23 antennas used in combination to image the universe at millimeter wavelengths. Located on a high-altitude site in the Inyo Mountains of California, CARMA is currently the most powerful millimeter array in the world, with unmatched imaging capabilities. The array can be operated at three atmospheric bands: 1cm (27-35 GHz), 3mm (85-116 GHz) and 1mm (215-270 GHz) and can achieve an angular resultion as high as 0.15 arcseconds. CARMA is operated as a partnership among Caltech, Berkeley, Illinois, Maryland and Chicago with significant funding from the NSF.

Millimeter-wave astronomy focuses on the study of the cold universe via observations of the radio emission from atoms, molecules, cold dust, and relic emission from the very early universe. The flexibility of CARMA enables a broad range of research: from the evolution of galaxy clusters and the universe to the formation, evolution, and dynamics of galaxies, and from the formation and evolution of stars and their planetary systems, to the composition of planetary atmospheres, comets and other small bodies in our solar system. The complex phenomena and chemistry that shape our cosmos can be explored with CARMA thanks to its excellent sensitivity, broad frequency coverage, sub-arcsecond resolution and wide-field heterogeneous imaging capabilities.

CARMA also provides unique learning opportunities for the next generation of instrumentalists and millimeter-wave scientists. Students are encouraged to get involved in new technology developments, as well as planning and carrying out observations with CARMA. The training of a new generation of astronomers that will make good use of ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) is taking place here. At the same time, several outreach opportunities are being carried out by the CARMA collaboration such as monthly tours and an annual open house in the observatory, as well as science talks for the general public in the nearby town of Bishop. A more formal educational opportunity comes from the annual CARMA summer school held every year at the observatory site, which provides hands-on training in interferometry concepts, instrumentation and data reduction. All Caltech graduate students are welcome to attend.

[Image credits: CARMA]

Text maintained by Thushara Pillai <tpillai [at]>