European ARC Newsletter
24 Sep 2021

Welcome to the European ALMA Regional Centre Newsletter!  

This Newsletter, which appears on a monthly 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

The Cycle 8 2021 ACA Supplemental Call for Proposals is open

08 Sep 2021:

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is now accepting observing proposals for Cycle 8 2021 that request to use the Atacama Compact Array (ACA) in stand-alone mode. Instructions on how to submit proposals can be found on the Cycle 8 2021 Supplemental Call web page.

Users of any nationality or affiliation are invited to submit proposals before the deadline of 15:00 UT on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

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ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations Status Update

07 Sep 2021:

PI science observations have been continuing with the 12-m and Morita Arrays. As reported in the previous status update, there was a delay in the antenna configuration schedule due to the bad weather since May, in addition to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no further delays since then, and the relocation to the hybrid C43-9/10 configuration was completed on 1 September, 2021.

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ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Review: Detailed Report

20 Aug 2021:

A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Cycle 8 2021 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. The highest priority Cycle 8 2021 projects are listed at this link.

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Update on the Amplitude Calibration Issue Affecting some ALMA Data

11 Aug 2021:

ALMA has begun work on correcting some Cycle 7 interferometric datasets for a visibility amplitude calibration error that affects fields containing strong astronomical emission – details were described in this previous announcement. For all affected datasets with a >10% flux scale offset that have yet to be delivered, including those that will be observed in the remainder of Cycle 7 and in Cycle 8 2021, ALMA will apply a renormalization correction during data processing to correctly scale the amplitude calibration before being sent to PIs.

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New development study exploring atmospheric variations

01 Aug 2021:

The ESO internal ALMA development study "ESO-ALLEGRO Phase RMS database" officially started in July 2021. Since site testing studies conducted over two-decades ago there have been no statistical studies, nor material presented to explore the atmospheric variations (phase RMS) of the thousands of accrued ALMA observations. The Phase RMS study will remedy this.

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ALMA poll of the month













Join the online ALMA training events!

The European ARC Network is resuming the online training series of I-TRAIN. In the autumn we have scheduled tutorials on software tools to work with ALMA data as well as solar observations with ALMA:

  • 30th September - ALminer, for mining the ALMA Archive
  • 15th October - LineStacker, for stacking spectral lines
  • 19th November - Solar observations with ALMA
  • 10th December - STATCONT, for statistical continuum determination  

You can find further details on our next session below. 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 #8: Exploring the ALMA Science Archive with ALminer

18 Sep 2021:

The European ARC Network invites users to an online training on using the software tool ALminer -ALMA Archive Mining & Visualization Toolkit (Ahmadi & Hacar, 2021). The session will be held on Thursday September 30th, 2021, 11:00 CEST [Zoom link].

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Training Opportunity: Introduction to Radio Astronomy

17 Sep 2021:

The German ARC node in cooperation with the University of Bonn offers an introduction to radio astronomy for students, postdocs and more senior astronomers. For more information, please see the course homepage.

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Meet the ARC

Dr. Aida Ahmadi

Aida joined the ARC node in The Netherlands, Allegro, in January 2020, a few days after finishing her PhD at MPIA in Heidelberg. At Allegro, she has been leading the development of ALminer, the ALMA archive mining and visualization toolkit, which enables users to efficiently query, analyse, and visualize the ALMA Science Archive. She is also involved in high-performance computing for the reduction and analysis of large ALMA datasets.  

Aida's research interests revolve around understanding the early phase of high-mass star formation. She has experience using the APEX telescope to study the physical conditions in the galactic center, and ALMA and NOEMA interferometers to search for and characterise the elusive disks around high-mass young stellar objects.

Dr. Eelco van Kampen

Eelco joined the ARC at ESO in November 2008, following positions around Europe (Leiden, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Innsbruck), mostly studying galaxy formation and evolution using simulations and single-dish sub-mm telescopes like the JCMT. At the ARC he is mostly involved in Phase 2 support (EU lead) and the ALMA Science Portal, amongst others.

Scientifically, Eelco currently studies galaxies in cluster environments, at high and low redshifts, and galaxy clustering properties at larger scales.


ALMA science highlight

Discovery of a giant molecular halo around one of the SUPER quasars at z~2


Left panel: Curve of growth of the CO(3-2) line emission, showing the integrated flux as a function of radius of the aperture used for spectra extraction. ALMA data are not reliable for measuring fluxes beyond 10 arcseconds. Right panel: ACA map obtained by integrating the CO(3-2) line emission.

New Atacama Compact Array (ACA) observations have revealed the presence of a giant CO-emitting halo around cid_346, one of the X-ray selected z~2 quasars of the "SUPER" survey, where previous ALMA snapshot observations had only detected a compact interstellar medium component. The CO(3-2) flux measured by the ACA is roughly 14 times higher than measured by ALMA, and the ACA data show a structure that extends out to 200 kpc in projected size, hence well beyond the kiloparsec-scale (r< 8kpc) ISM previously imaged with ALMA. This is the most extended molecular circumgalactic medium (CGM) reservoir that has ever been mapped. A strict lower limit on the total CGM molecular gas mass is 1010 solar masses, however the measured CO(3-2) luminosity may trace up to 1.7 X 1012 solar masses of molecular gas. The ACA CO spectrum has a line width of FWHM = 1000 km/s and is skewed towards redshifted velocities out to 1000 km/s.  There is no detection of close companions in the ALMA sub-mm continuum or other available optical and near-IR images. The ACA moment maps show complex kinematics, which may be the signature of the direct imprint of AGN-driven outflows (clearly detected in the SINFONI observations of this quasar) but also of accreting streams. The origin of such extended molecular CGM reservoir is still unclear, and requires both deeper, multi-wavelength observations and dedicated theoretical efforts to be understood.

This work, published by Cicone et al. (2021), shows, on the one hand, the added value of the ACA for high-z science with ALMA and, on the other hand, conveys the need for a new sensitive sub-millimeter single dish facility such as the Atacama Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (AtLAST) that can enable detection of such cold CGM structures also at lower redshifts.


Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings


Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS) XXXI

The 31st annual conference on Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems will be held physically in Cape Town and online, on 24-28 October 2021, and hosted by IDIARATT, and SARAO.

This annual conference, held in a different location each year, is a forum for astronomers, computer scientists, software engineers, faculty members and students working in areas related to algorithms, software and systems for the acquisition, reduction, analysis, and dissemination of astronomical data.

The ADASS XXXI program will include invited talks, contributed papers, posters, tutorials, focus demos, and special interest (“Birds of a Feather” or BoF) meetings. These activities aim to stimulate further development of software and systems to meet the data science challenges of astronomy. More informaton can be found at the conference website.


10th IRAM 30-meter School on Millimeter Astronomy - Virtual Edition  

The 10th IRAM 30-meter School on Millimeter Astronomy will be held on-line, on 15-19, 22 and 23 November 2021. On-line registration will open shortly.

The school will combine lectures on millimeter astronomy with observations using the 30-meter telescope. Lectures will be given by experienced scientists and 30-meter observers, covering a wide range of topics. In addition, the school will include lectures on instrumentation, observing techniques, and data processing.

The lectures will be complemented by practical work using the 30-meter telescope. Unlike previous schools, in this edition all observations will be conducted in remote mode.

The school is primarily meant for young researchers with little previous experience in millimeter astronomy. Due to the constraints imposed by the practices at the telescope, the school attendance will be limited to about 60 students who will be selected on the basis of their interests, experience, and references.