European ARC Newsletter
20 Dec 2019
The Crux watches over ALMA

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

ALMA Cycle 8 Pre-announcement

20 Dec 2019:

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will start the next cycle of observing (Cycle 8) in October 2020.

A Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 8 will be issued in March 2020, with a deadline for proposal submission mid-April 2019. This pre-announcement highlights aspects of the Cycle 8 proposal call that are needed to plan proposals. More information can be found on the ALMA Science Portal.  

Read more

Job Advertisement: ALMA Postdoctoral Positions at Allegro

12 Dec 2019:

Allegro, the Netherlands node of the European ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) at Leiden Observatory, invites applications for two postdoctoral support positions. The position offers the opportunity for research at one of the major centres of astronomy in the Europe as well as an in-depth involvement in the development and operations of ALMA. Established in 1633, Leiden Observatory is the oldest university observatory in operation today.

The deadline for applications is Jan 21, 2020.

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The ALMA2030 Vision: Design considerations for the Next ALMA Correlator

15 Nov 2019:

Design Considerations for the Next ALMA Correlator to be held 11-13 February 2020, in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The purpose of this meeting is to bring together experts on the ALMA system and modern digital correlator design in order to (1) discuss ALMA design requirements for the next generation ALMA correlator that enables the ALMA2030 vision; (2) share pros and cons of recent and currently under design correlator architectures; and (3) identify challenges for implementing and deploying a new ALMA correlator. Ultimately we hope this meeting encourages and informs the submission of viable designs for the next ALMA correlator in the near future.

Tthe deadline for abstract submission is December 20.

Read more

EU request for calibrated data

20 Sep 2019:

By popular demand, the EU ARC has implemented a service which permits ALMA users to request the calibrated data for a given dataset (Member Obs Unit Set, MOUS) to be made available for download. The service is open both for ALMA PIs or Delegees with proprietary ALMA data and for archival users wanting to use datasets for which the proprietary time has expired.

Read more

ALMA Programme News

ALMA Cycle 8 - Pre-announcment

Cycle 8, planned to start October 2020 and last through to September 2021 has a number of key differences to previous ALMA cycles.

  • Array configurations will now be referred to by C-1, C-2, and so forth. Similar to how in Cycle 7 the configurations were pre-fixed with C43. C-1 of Cycle 8 has similar characteristics as C43-1 from Cycle 7.
  • Only configurations C-1 to C-8 with maximal baselines ranging from 0.16 to 8.5 km will be available, where C-8 will only be open to Bands 3 through Band 7. Thus excluding the longest two baselines.
  • The proposal review will be a double-anonymous process, such that the reviewers will not know who any of the authors of the proposal are.

In Cycle 8, the following technical capabilities will be available for the first time:

  • Solar observations in Band 5
  • VLBI observations of faint science targets (correlated flux density <500 mJy within an unresolved core on ALMA baselines up to 1 km). These observations will be done in passive phasing mode, where it is recommended to have a bright calibrator within 5 deg of the science target.
  • High-frequency observations (Bands 9 and 10) with the stand-alone 7-m Array
  • Mosaicking of continuum linear polarization observations (Bands 3 to 7)
  • Spectral scans with the 7-m Array

Key dates to remember, also now including the ACA supplemental call:

  • 17 March 2020 - Call for proposals and OT release
  • 15 April 2020  - Cycle 8 deadline
  • End July 2020 - Results of proposal reviews
  • 9 September 2020 - Main Call Phase 2 submission deadline
  • 15 September 2020 - Supplemental call opens
  • 8 October 2020 - Supplemental call phase I deadline
  • 1 October 2020 - Start of Cycle 8 observations
  • September 2021 - End of Cycle 8 observations
More information is provide on the Science Portal


ALMA2019: Science Results and Cross-Facility Synergies

The ALMA Conference was a resounding success with over 235 participants presenting ALMA results over a huge range of topics from observations of the Sun to the Epoch of Reionization. The conference featured 220 talks and posters, and was the 4th major conference held since the beginning of science operations. For a historical perspective, the First ALMA Science Conference – Science with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) – was held almost exactly twenty years ago at the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 6-8 October 1999 (ASP Conference Series, Volume 235).

Zenodo is used to host all talks and posters in a dedicated community section.

Contributions from the ARC Nodes

ALLEGRO: EWASS Special Session

The EU ARC network is organizing the Special Session (SS13) within the European Astronomical Community meeting, EAS 2020, to be held in Leiden between 29 June and 3 July - Eight years of ALMA ground-breaking results: A joint venture between the ALMA user community and the ALMA Regional Centres.

In our one-day program we include invited talks from researchers using ALMA and the EU ARC node experts who will highlight new and important scientific results. Talks from node staff will also emphasize the issues and technical aspects that triggered most of the user support requests during the last years.

The aim of this Special Session is to bring together the European ALMA users and the researchers providing support at the different EU ARC Nodes. This is a great opportunity for current and future users of ALMA to discuss new scientific results, observation and data reduction strategies, foster collaborations, and brainstorm on development and implementation of software from the user community. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to identify the need for additional services such as data combination when using different array configurations, pipeline products delivery or archive mining. 

We invite the ALMA users community to register to the SS13 and submit abstracts for contributed talks and posters . We aim to showcase the most scientifically relevant results from ALMA users that were supported by the EU ARC network.

For more information, visit the SS13 website, and EAS2020.


Nordic Node:  ERIS 2019 School

The eighth in the series of European Radio Interferometry Schools (ERIS) was held in October this year at the Onsala Space Observatory supported by RadioNet a program funded in the framework of the European Horizon 2020. ERIS is a biennial summer school, with the last two meetings being previously hosted in Dwingeloo 2017, and Garching 2015.  

More than 70 students from 28 countries around the world participated. The school consisted of a full week long, intense program on radio interferometry, including lectures and tutorials on different interferometers around the globe and covering the full radio spectrum, from sub-millimeter to centimeter wavelengths (ALMA, NOEMA, LOFAR and cm VLBI). There were also a number of hands-on tutorials where participants were able to work with real data. Lectures were given by researchers from many European institutes and the Nordic ALMA ARC node. The lectures and tutorial material (including software requirements and datasets) are all available online for the community.  

The program not only covered the basics of how to reduce and deal with real data, but also focused on advance techniques such as self-calibration, wide-field imaging and polarisation. Of great use for future researchers was the proposal and observing planning lecture and interactive tutorial which gave an insight into the many considerations when asking for telescope time.  


ERIS 2019

Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

  • The ALMA2030 Vision: Design Considerations for the Next ALMA Correlator
    11-13 February, 2020, Charlottesville, VA, USA

    The purpose of this meeting is to bring together experts on the ALMA system and modern digital correlator design in order to (1) discuss ALMA design requirements for the next generation ALMA correlator that enables the ALMA2030 vision; (2) share pros and cons of recent and currently under design correlator architectures; and (3) identify challenges for implementing and deploying a new ALMA correlator. Ultimately we hope this meeting encourages and informs the submission of viable designs for the next ALMA correlator in the near future. The program will include invited and contributed talks, as well as discussion sessions and ample space for posters (with dedicated poster-viewing time).
  • 1st Internationoal Workshop on Solar Imaging with ALMA
    2-6 March, 2020, Oslo, Norway

    Solar observations with ALMA have been offered since Cycle 4 (2016-2017), and all solar data of Cycle 4 and a part of the data of Cycle 5 (2017-2018) have already been released to the public. However, non-experts in the field of radio interferometers have some fundamental difficulties in analyzing the ALMA solar data. The most difficult obstacle to overcome in achieving scientific results from the ALMA solar data is the issue of image synthesis. To reduce the difficulty, we hold the workshop for discussing and resolving the problems of solar image synthesis. 
  • Planets2020: Ground and space observatories - a joint venture to planetary science
    2-6 March, 2020, JAO, Chile

    During this workshop, we expect to further explore the synergies between these ways of exploring space, and to foster collaboration between both communities by sharing scientific and technical knowledge, needs, requirements, and techniques. Capabilities of major ground and space based observatories will be discussed, including JWST. We will take advantage of the workshop location to showcase the current and future capabilities of ALMA for planetary science, and encourage planetary scientists to use this facility.
  • The ALMA2030 Vision: Design considerations for Digitizers, Backend and Data Transmission Systems
    11-13 March, 2020, Mitaka, Japan
    The ALMA Development Roadmap has identified the multiplication of the IF bandwidth of ALMA (at least by a factor 2) as one of the main priorities for ALMA upgrades in the 2020s. This increase of the instantaneous bandwidth will be realized with the coordinated upgrade of receivers in the Front End, the correlators, and last but not least, all electronics between them: digitizers, backend and Data Transmission System (DTS). This meeting aims to bring together experts on the ALMA system and digitizer, backend and data transmission system technologies, from within ALMA and from the community.