The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don't know it yet

The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don't know it yet

- Astronomers are gathering an exponentially greater amount of data every day – so much that it will take years to uncover all the hidden signals buried in the archives.

- The Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile now anticipates adding 2 TB of data to its archives every day.

- Depending on how long a new mission runs, it can detect hundreds of times more astronomical sources than previous missions at that wavelength.

- For example, compare the early EGRET gamma ray observatory, which flew in the 1990s, to NASA's flagship mission Fermi, which turns 10 this year.

- It will be so sensitive that it will generate 10 million alerts per night on new or transient sources, leading to a catalog of over 15 petabytes after 10 years.

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