European ARC Newsletter
26 Oct 2016
The ALMA Compact Array comprises of 16 (four 12-m and twelve 7-m) antennas.

Welcome to the European ALMA Regional Centre Newsletter!  

This Newsletter is a compilation of recent European ALMA Regional Centre Announcement items. Follow the links or visit the European ARC Announcements to read more. In addition to these Announcements the Newsletter informs you about various developments in the ALMA Programme, as well as about ALMA or ALMA-related meetings.

Up-to-date information about weather, configuration and scheduling can be found on the ALMA Status page.

European ARC Announcements

Memorandum of ALMA Operations: PI Data Delivery

16 Oct 2016:

Memo from the ALMA Director and Operations Managers

The fundamental product of the ALMA Observatory is, and will remain, calibrated data and images. At the same time, the Observatory has been steadily increasing its performance in terms of efficiency, stability and time available for PI-driven science and, as a result, a steady increase in data production. We, at ALMA, aspire to maintain the quality of the delivered data. In the short-term, this will imply some extended data delivery timescales as the Observatory copes with the increased data load and the calibration and imaging pipeline matures to routine and more automated processing.

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Impressions from the ALMA Postdoc Symposium

14 Oct 2016:

Following the main ALMA conference "Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed" held in Palm Springs (California) from 20 to 23 September 2016, the 2nd ALMA Postdoc Symposium took place during the weekend of 24/25 September. More than 15 postdocs working for the different ALMA Regional Centres gathered together to share their scientific research and knowledge about the different activities related to ALMA. This time, a number of postdocs not directly associated with the ALMA Regional Centres but working with ALMA data were invited to participate and join the discussions.

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CASA 4.7.0 has been released

04 Oct 2016:

A new version of CASA, version 4.7.0. has been released. This latest release 4.7.0 is available on Linux with Red Hat and Mac OSX with El Capitan and Yosemite operating systems. CASA may also work on other flavors of Linux. The list above covers those operating systems that on which regular test are done.

More details can be obtained from the CASA Web site.


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ALMA Cycle 4 Proposal Review: Detailed Report

24 Sep 2016:

A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Cycle 4 Proposal Review Process is now available. The report details the proposal review process, proposal statistics and regional distributions, as well as the proposal distribution across science categories and receiver bands.

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ALMA Celebrates Half a Decade of Scientific Results

23 Sep 2016:

Over 200 astronomers from all around the world have gathered in Indian Wells, California, U.S.A. to participate in the Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed conference held between September 20 and 23 and organized by ALMA and its partners: NRAO, NAOJ and ESO. This is the third international conference presenting ALMA’s results since the Observatory began its astronomical observation cycles.

More information:

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Updated ALMA Configuration Schedule for Cycle 4

07 Sep 2016:

ALMA announces that Configuration C40-7 will not be visited in October 2016 as indicated in the Cycle 4 Proposer’s Guide.

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Release of ALMA Observations of the Galactic Centre

05 Sep 2016:

ALMA observations of the Galactic Centre obtained on July 12 and 18, 2016 UT are now available in the ALMA archive. The ALMA data were obtained using Director’s Discretionary Time under project code 2015.A.00021.S (Principal Investigator Gunther Witzel) and are being made available to the community with no proprietary period.

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Cycle 4 A- and B-graded Projects available on the ALMA Science Portal

01 Sep 2016:

Information about ALMA Cycle 4 projects with public metadata, including all Cycle 4 A- and B-graded proposals, any Cycle 4 C-graded proposals with archived observations, are now available via the High Priority Projects page on the ALMA Science Portal.

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New Release of Science Verification Data

23 Aug 2016:

A new installment of Science Verification data is available. The data contains observations of quasars obtained during the long baseline campaigns in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The data were taken to study the stability of the relative amplitude and phase of the system and the atmosphere.

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ALMA Programme News

Band 5

Equipping all ALMA antennas with Band 5 is proceeding well. The production cartridges (Fig. 1) are being delivered up to the end of 2017 by a consortium of NOVA (NL, consortium lead) and GARD (SE).

By end of September a total of 32 receiver cartridges were delivered to Chile for integration into the existing front ends. Of these, 26 cartridges have been integrated and tested in the Front End Integration Center at the OSF. All Band 5 receivers installed in Front Ends meet specifications and, in particular, the sensitivity and cross-polarization performance are well within the tight specifications (Fig. 2).

Currently 22 antennas with Band 5 receivers are available at the AOS. Engineering verification has been completed, with no issues found.

Figure 1: A Band 5 receiver cartridge at the OSF ready for integration into an ALMA Front End (visible in the background) with the other Bands (3 to 10).
Figure 2: Band 5 sensitivity for 32 cartridges. The Band 5 production cartridges meet the tightened noise temperature specification with margin: <75 K at any frequency, and <55 K over 80% of the band. In addition, the optical performance is very good; in particular, the cross-polarization efficiency is well above the 99.5% specification.

Band 5 Busy Week

The EU ARC ALMA Band 5 Busy Week was held October 17 to 21. The purpose of the week was to assess ALMA Band 5 data acquired for Science Verification public release, and to create tested reduction scripts for these data and data products. The Busy Week was hosted by the Nordic ARC Node at Onsala Space Observatory, Chalmers University. Local participants were: Tobia Carozzi, Simon Casey, Sabine König, Matthias Maercker, Ivan Marti-Vidal, Sebastien Muller, Daniel Tafoya and Wouter Vlemmings. Participants from other ARC Nodes were: Liz Humphreys (ESO), Ana Lopez-Sepulcre (IRAM Node), Lydia Moser (German Node) and Anita Richards (UK Node).

The week started by dividing into teams to work on each of the datasets. The team coordinators were Anita Richards (Sgr B2 Spectral Scan), Sabine König and Sebastien Muller (Arp 220) and Ivan Marti-Vidal (VY CMa Spectral Line Full Polarization). Each day the teams worked in their own groups on the data calibration and imaging, and then all met together in the afternoons to discuss progress and any problems, and to get the input of others. The teams achieved a huge amount (the Sgr B2 spectral scan for example included 20 ALMA execution blocks)! And thanks to their hard work there will soon be ALMA Band 5 Science Verification data released to the public for the first time.

The ALMA Band 5 Science Verification data release involves many others. These include: Andy Biggs, Katharina Immer, Robert Laing, Baobab Liu, Gianni Marconi, Tony Mroczkowski, Leonardo Testi and Pavel Yagoubov. The execution of the observations was supported by the Extension and Optimisation of Capabilities group at the Joint ALMA Observatory.

ALMA Residence

The construction of the ALMA Residence buildings at the OSF has finished. All seven (basically empty) buildings are complete and ESO has accepted them from the contractor. The design and construction resulted in very pleasant buildings.

In relation with the ALMA Residence construction, there are two additional tasks funded by the ESO-ALMA construction budget which are managed by JAO. This concerns the outfitting of the Residence with kitchen, furniture etc. and the outfitting with IT infrastructure and telephones. This activity has started some time ago and will take several months to fully complete.

The ALMA Residence was designed by Finnish Architects Kouvu and Partanen and features in this year’s 15th International Architecture Exhibition (Fig. 6). The world renowned International Architecture Exhibition has been held every two years since 1980 in the historic city of Venice, Italy, and has celebrated some of the most fascinating and groundbreaking architecture from around the world. This year’s event is running between 28 May and 27 November 2016 and features designs on the theme of “Reporting from the Front”, showcasing architecture that overcomes the odds to provide a better place to live for all.

Figure 3: View of the ALMA Residence main building (October 2016). Figure 4: The future ALMA reception and entrance hall (October 2016).
Figure 5: Night view of the walk ways between dormitory buildings. Figure 6: The ALMA Residencia design features at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy. The wall panels on the right hand side of this image show the design (credit: Kouvu and Partanen Architect).

Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

  • UK ALMA "Bring Your Own Data" Workshop
    Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (UoM campus), 21 - 25 November 2016.

    The UK ALMA Regional Centre Node would like to invite UK ALMA data users to a data reduction/processing event at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (UoM campus) to be held on 21 - 25 November 2016. The focus of the workshop is to explore and to work on either own ALMA data or archival data with the assistance of UK ARC Node personnel and ARC Node computing resources.
    The workshop will be a free-form event focused on data processing, with each group setting their own goals and with an afternoon of short talks at the end of the week. For this workshop, the UK ARC Node can support up to 8 groups (of greater than one person per group) and up to a maximum number of attendees of 20 people. As such, sign up will be on a first come first served basis.

    The workshop webpage, with more details and an expression of interest form, can be found here:

  • ALMA Band 1 Science Workshop
    ASIAA, Taipei (Taiwan), 16-18 January 2017

    The new ALMA Band 1 receiver is an ALMA development project lead by East Asia as a collaboration of ASIAA, NAOJ, NRAO, and the Universidad de Chile that will provide access to the 35-51 GHz frequency window at high angular resolution and sensitivity from the southern hemisphere.  Several key science
    cases have been proposed to be studied with the Band 1 Science Case aimed at greatly increasing the volume of the observable Universe and the range of observable frequencies and energies with ALMA.
    The ALMA Band 1 Science Workshop will take place at the ASIAA (Academia Sinica, Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics) in Taipei (Taiwan) from January 16 to 18 2017. It will consist of a few invited talks on the main scientific goals of ALMA Band 1, plus contributed talks. We also plan to have poster sessions.
    To obtain more information about the workshop and to access the registration
    forms, please go to

  • Getting Ready for ALMA Band 5 – Synergy with APEX/SEPIA
    1-3 February 2017, Garching, Germany

    The frequency range from 160 to 210 GHz covered by ALMA Band 5 is one of the least explored to date. This band is expected to be offered in ALMA Cycle 5, but has already been extensively used in the SEPIA instrument on APEX since 2015. Important science topics covered by Band 5 include the 183 GHz H2O line, a wide range of dense molecular gas tracers (HCN(2-1), HNC(2-1), HCO+(2-1), etc), CO(2-1) at 0.077<z<0.414, [C I] and high-J CO lines in high redshift objects, and eventually the [C II] line at z>8.

    The goal of the workshop will be to discuss and highlight the role of APEX as an ALMA complement and to stimulate European ALMA users to focus on the science that will be enabled by the new Band 5 receivers. Full details of the Workshop can be found at The closing date for abstract submission is 15 December 2016.