The world's largest radio telescope has been inaugurated in Chile on a mountain high above the Atacama Desert, wielding unprecedented power to peer into the remotest regions of the universe.

The ALMA space observatory consists of 66 antennae creating a telescope array 16 kilometres in diameter.

ALMA, short for the Atacama Large Millimeter-submillimeter Array, an acronym which means "soul" in Spanish, is a joint effort among North American, European and Asian agencies.

Unlike optical or infrared telescopes, ALMA can capture the faint glow and gas present in the formation of the first stars, galaxies and planets in an extremely cold region of the universe.

The $1.3 billion ALMA observatory promises to probe deeper into space than any other telescope.

It will allow astronomers to study wavelengths invisible to the human eye.

ALMA's director, Thijs de Graauw said it will be able to get detailed images of space.

“We'll get detail in the images, an angular resolution that is even better than the Hubble Space Telescope is doing,” he said.