European ARC Newsletter
31 May 2021

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.

European ARC Announcements

ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations Status Update

31 May 2021:

Over the past several weeks, ALMA has continued to conduct PI science observations on a best-effort basis while the recovery of the Arrays has been ongoing. The first set of antenna relocations was completed on May 10, 2021, moving the 12-m Array into the C43-6 configuration. In addition, PI science using eight antennas on the 7-m Array began on May 18, 2021. The plan is to go through all remaining configurations (C43-7 to C43-10) by the end of Cycle 7, although for a shorter duration than originally planned for each configuration.

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Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Submission Statistics

28 May 2021:

A detailed report of the Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Submission Statistics is now available. The report provides a summary of items such as the number of submitted proposals and time requested, subscription rates, and comparisons with the number of hours requested in previous Cycles.

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Join the online ALMA training events

We present the next events of the I-TRAIN series with the European ARC Network, a regular series of Interactive Training in Reduction and Analysis of INterferometric data. 

In June we will host a training session on polarisation observations with ALMA. You can find further details below and you can access or subscribe to the calendar of sessions at [calendar URL][iCal address]. 

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.


I-TRAIN #7: Polarisation observations with ALMA

14 May 2021:

The European ARC Network invites users to an online training on polarisation observations with ALMA. The session will be held on Thursday June 24, 2021, 11:00 CEST [Zoom link]. In this training session, participants will learn about ALMA’s polarisation capabilities and data products available in the archive. In particular, instructions on how to inspect the diagnostic information on data calibration and how to produce polarisation images will be given.

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Hands-on Training Opportunity: ALMA Data Reduction

07 Mar 2021:

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 from April to July 2021. More information can be found here

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Meet the ARC

Dr. Rosita Paladino

Rosita joined the Italian ARC node in 2011. She participates in the node activities supporting the Italian scientists with their ALMA projects, and she enjoys teaching interferometry to master students at the Bologna University. Her research interests focus on star formation in nearby galaxies, and, in particular, on the role magnetic fields play in it.

Since 2015 she joined the ALMA polarisation working group, mostly contributing to the testing of new capabilities and of the data reduction strategy. This work allowed her to spend some time at JAO in Santiago and at the ALMA sites. Of those visits she particularly treasured the chance to meet the extraordinary group of committed and enthusiast people working daily at the OSF and AOS to make astronomers' wishes come true.

Dr. Tobia Carozzi

Tobia has joined the Nordic ARC node many years agoand specialises in polarisation, primary beam patterns and high cadence solar imaging.

His Research interests, which are electromagnetic polarisation, radio astronomical imaging and calibration, match his technical contribution to the Nordic ARC node.


ALMA science highlight

Methanol absorption toward a high redshift quasar: invariance of the proton-electron mass ratio

Excerpt of ALMA observations toward the quasar PKS1830-211, showing several absorption lines of methanol (CH3OH) and its 13C-isotopologue.

Our understanding of the Universe relies on scientific laws that describe, for example, the motions of planets around their stars or the propagation of electromagnetic waves. The basic assumption that the scientific laws are valid everywhere, and at any time, can be challenged: in particular, are the fundamental physical constants, like the speed of light or the Newton gravitational constant, indeed constant, or can their values change with time and space or with local properties?

Searches for varying constants can be done with various methods, including spectroscopic observations toward high redshift objects in the Universe. The methanol molecule is the most sensitive spectroscopic probe of hypothetical variations of the dimensionless proton-to-electron mass ratio. Unfortunately, to date only one single high-redshift object, a galaxy located at a look-back time of about 7 Gyr illuminated by the background quasar PKS1830-211, has been found with methanol absorption. The system is a very complex one (a gravitational lens, where the background source has a high time variability in intensity and structure), thus causing systematic problems in the precise analysis of absorption frequencies.

With ALMA, Muller et al. (2021) have observed multiple lines of methanol in absorption toward PKS1830-211, investigated the dominant systematic effects, and included them in an analysis constraining the drift of the proton-to-electron mass ratio. They conclude that the proton-to-electron mass ratio in this distant galaxy does not differ from its value today on Earth by more than 0.00004%, a tight constraint suggesting that it may indeed be constant. Or varying, but at a rate still below our perception.


Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

Virtual OPTICON Archival School Using ESO and ALMA Data 

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.  

Exploring the high-redshift Universe with ALMA   

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.


50th Young European Radio Astronomers Conference - Virtual Edition

From August 24 to 27, 2021, IRAM will host the virtual 50th Young European Radio Astronomers Conference (YERAC).

YERAC is a real opportunity for graduate and doctoral students, as well as young postdoctoral researchers to meet together, present their work, tap into different radio-astronomical subjects, and discuss research done by others. Important dates:

  • April 6: registration opens
  • May 28: deadline for registration and recommendation letters
  • June 25: candidates receive their confirmation of participation
  • Aug 24-27: YERAC goes online.

For more information, visit the YERAC webpage.


The ALMA 2030 Vision: A Next Generation of Front End Receivers

This workshop will be held online during 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.