Welcome to the European ALMA Regional Centre Newsletter!
This Newsletter, which appears on a bimonthly basis, is a compilation of recent European ALMA Regional Centre announcements. In addition to these, the Newsletter provides an inside look into ALMA operations, showcases some of the exciting science carried out with ALMA by our European colleagues, and informs you about ALMA or ALMA-related meetings.
ALMA is very pleased to share the positive news that science observations re-started on 17 March 2021. These were the first Cycle 7 data to be acquired since the Observatory shutdown, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020. The first newly-acquired datasets have now been calibrated and imaged, and have successfully passed the ALMA quality assurance stages.
The ALMA Director, on behalf of the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the partner organizations in East Asia, Europe, and North America, is pleased to announce the ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Call for Proposals (CfP) for scientific observations to be scheduled from October 2021 to September 2022. More detail can be found on the ALMA Science Portal.
ALMA is introducing distributed peer review in Cycle 8 2021. To optimize the success of this review method, all PIs are invited to update their "Expertise" on theALMA Science Portal. This information will be used to best match propsals with their referees.
The European ALMA Regional Centre invites all European ALMA users to a virtual community assembly on 19 March at 12:30 CET. At this community meeting, we will update you on the current and upcoming observing cycle and address FAQs on how PI science will be carried out. Also we can answer any questions you may have on your ALMA projects and support from the European ARC network. The meeting can be accessed at this link.
ALMA anticipates restarting limited science operations in March 2021 with at least thirty-two and eight antennas on the 12-m and 7-m arrays, respectively. The array configuration is planned to be C43-4/C43-5, which will roughly correspond to the array when the operations were suspended in March 2020.
The Cube Analysis and Rendering Tool for Astronomy (CARTA), a new image visualization and analysis tool designed for ALMA, VLA, and SKA pathfinders, has been integrated into the ALMA Science Archive (ASA). Now all 500,000+ science FITS files in the ALMA archive can be previewed using CARTA (Cycle 0 excluded).
The Nordic ARC node is organising a series of upcoming online events:
22 March 2021, 10:30 CET: Cycle 8 2021 Update and Proposal Preparation session [Zoom link]
24 March 2021, 15:00 CET: Cycle 8 2021 Update and Proposal Preparation session [Zoom link]
Both sessions will include demonstrations on how to use the Observing Tool to set up your observations. Demonstrations will be based on galactic (March 22) and extragalactic (March 24) science cases.
Previous presentations on "Introduction to Interferometry and ALMA" and "Dual Anonymous and Distributed Peer Review in Cycle 8 2021" can be found here. Similarly, after the upcoming events, presentations will be available here. You can contact the Nordic ARC staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for support or any further questions. If you would like to receive further information you can subscribe to the Nordic ARC newsletter here.
The Italian ARC Node organizes an online community meeting on Monday 22 March 2021, 11-12 CET [Meeting link]. The meeting will cover the following topics:
Status of the array
New capabilities and observing modes
Proposal preparation and review: important changes
The ALMA Science Archive: its status and how to use it
Please note that this activity is in addition to the usual "face-to-face" support that anybody can request at any time from the Italian ARC node via e-mail to email@example.com, or through the ALMA Helpdesk.
The UK ARC Node will host a Virtual Workshop on 22-26 March 2021. Although this event is aimed at UK researchers, participants from other countries are welcome to join. The workshop will be scheduled as a series of half-day sessions running an entire week and will cover the following topics:
Introductions to ALMA and radio interferometry
ALMA proposal preparation
Using the ALMA Archive
Calibrating and imaging ALMA data
At the end of the workshop, UK ARC Node staff will be available to help with any questions related to participants' specific research or to provide further assistance with proposal preparation. To participate in the workshop, please register here by the 17th of March.
Allegro, the ARC node in the Netherlands, is organizing a proposal preparation workshop for ALMA Cycle 8 2021 on Monday 29 March 2021. This will be an online meeting, with presentations about the ALMA capabilities, the Observing Tool, and tips & tricks for the double-anonymous proposal writing and distributed review process. More information and registration can be found here.
In view of the special challenges of the ongoing pandemic, the traditional all-day community event will be replaced by a series of pre-recorded video presentations that can be watched conveniently at any time and location of choice. The presentations cater to astronomers with different levels of expertise, from introductory tutorials for scientists new to ALMA to a concise update for experienced ALMA users.
The presentations will be complemented by an online community meeting on Wednesday, 7 April 2021, and by individual one-on-one help via a video conferencing platform. For details on the presentations and the online meeting, please refer to the Proposal Preparation homepage.
Join the online ALMA training events
The I-TRAIN (Interactive Training in Reduction and Analysis of INterferometric data) series within the European ARC Network will continue in 2021 but will be paused during the ALMA Call for Proposals period. In May we will resume the series with a tutorial on the self-calibration of ALMA data (see more details below).
Please contact us by submitting a ticket to the ALMA HelpDesk (Department "General Queries) if you wish to provide your feedback on I-TRAIN. Information on the I-TRAIN sessions, including legacy materials and links to YouTube videos from previous sessions, are available in the Science Portal.
The I-TRAIN session in May will serve as a tutorial on self-calibration of ALMA data. The session will be held online on Tuesday May 25, 2021, 11:00 CEST [Zoom link]. In this session you will learn how to self-calibrate your interferometric images to improve their image fidelity. In particular, you will learn criteria to decide whether to self-calibrate, what preparation is needed, how to choose parameter values - and when to stop - and thus, how to improve the image dynamic range and bring faint details out of the noise.
The German ARC node offers hands-on training in the reduction and analysis of ALMA data in their online Master-level course "Radio Interferometry 2021" which runs fromApril to July 2021. More information can be found here.
Jan has been involved with ALMA since the creation of the Italian node of the EU network in 2005. As the node's coordinator he is responsible for the finances and personnel management, and participates in the organisation of community events and in user support. His main research interests lie in the study of the galactic ISM and star formation.
ALMA not observing in 2020 was a major disappointment, but Jan confesses that what he missed most was the all-hands meeting. Getting (re)acquainted and socialising with the colleagues in the network, informing each other of what's new, having discussions and exchanging ideas in an informal setting contributed much to making the node-network what it is today. Hopefully this can be a reality again in 2021.
Dr. Suzanna Randall
Suzanna joined the ESO ARC in 2010 and has since then been involved in many different things, including the ALMA OT, shifts at the telescope in Chile, Helpdesk and the Phase 2 process. She is now the Subsystem Scientist for AQUA, a suite of software used to manage the ALMA data quality assurance process.
Originally an optical astronomer, her research interests focus on evolved stars. She is also currently training as an astronaut with the private German initiative Astronautin, and is passionate about science outreach.
ALMA science highlights
Rapid gas outflow from the circumstellar disc of a Class III star, imaged by ALMA
Upper: Channel maps over the ~19 km/s range in which significant CO (J=3-2) emission was detected, and spatially resolved. Lower: PV diagrams for the (left) data, (centre-left) Keplerian disc model, (centre) residuals after Keplerian disc model subtraction, (centre-right) gas outflow model, (right) residuals after gas outflow model subtraction.
It is well known that protoplanetary discs are born with large quantities of gas and dust which persist for several Myr before dispersing, and that circumstellar belts are seen around older stars (>10 Myr) where the dust and gas is inferred to be secondary (from destructive collisions). Although the transition between these two types of disc is not well understood, class III stars - young stars lacking a significant hot mid-infrared excess, inferred to have lost their protoplanetary discs - may probe this critical transitionary epoch.
As part of a dedicated ALMA survey of 1-3 Myr Lupus association class III stars, continuum dust and CO gas was detected towards the star NO Lup (Lovell et al. 2021a). The dust can be readily explained by collisions between recently formed planetesimals in a belt within 50 au from the star. However, in a follow-up study the origin of the spectrally and spatially resolved gas (with ~19 km/s velocity width and a resolved size of ~1" or 130 au) was shown to be consistent with unbound gas, flowing away from the star at ~22 km/s (Lovell et al. 2021b). Based on the estimated gas mass and protoplanetary disc dispersal timescales, this is most plausibly explained via a secondary production mechanism, formed either through planetesimal collisions or the sublimation of icy comet surfaces, following the recent dispersal of primordial gas. The detection opens up new avenues for further detailed studies of gas evolution in young circumstellar discs, and provides a unique probe for planetary system evolution following the recent dispersal of protoplanetary discs.
Would you like to propose the next ALMA Science highlight? Write us!
The Virtual OPTICON Archival School Using ESO and ALMA Data will take place 19-26 June 2021.
In this school the students will conduct a project using data available either in the ESO or ALMA archive. The project is lead by an experienced tutor who will guide the students in retrieving, reducing and analysing the data. The school also includes basic lectures on ESO and ALMA, but the emphasis is on hands-on work. There will also be general interest lectures on different aspects of multi-messenger astrophysics, including very high energy gamma-rays, neutrinos and gravitational waves.
More information on the school can be found here, as well as the application form.
This school is mainly meant for PhD students, but also MSc students in the later stages of their studies and young postdocs can be considered.
The aim of this virtual symposium, which will take place on 28-29 June 2021, is to bring together the observational and theoretical high-redshift ALMA communities in order to discuss the most recent results in the rapidly evolving field of galaxies at redshift z~4 and above.
This symposium also aims to explore future synergies between ALMA and the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), one of the future flagships of European Astronomy, for high-redshift science. More information about the Symposium can be found here.
This workshop will be held online the week of September 27-30 (inclusive), 2021. Following the first two of three workshops intended to promote discussion of upgrades that will realize the ALMA 2030 vision, we plan to complete the workshop trilogy with this ALMA Front-End Development Workshop.
This workshop is intended to be relatively small and focused, but participation from all ALMA regions and the rest of the world is explicitly welcome. Registration and abstract submission will open at the end of March. Further information will be included in the 2nd announcement, and will also be made available on the meeting website.