European ARC Newsletter
25 May 2023

Welcome to the European ALMA Regional Centre Newsletter!  

This monthly newsletter is a compilation of recent European ALMA Regional Centre news and announcements and showcases an exciting ALMA science result by European colleagues. In the "Meet the ARC" section, the work of ARC personnel and the services and expertise areas of an ARC node are highlighted. Every month, you can learn an incredible ALMA fact in "Did you know" and give your opinion about a particular ALMA matter in the "Poll of the month". Upcoming ALMA and ALMA-related meetings as well as an entertaining social media post of the past month are highlighted at the end of the newsletter.

News and announcements Science highlight Meet the ARC
Poll of the month Did you know ALMA (related) meetings Social media highlight

Reminder for abstract submission for the conference "ALMA ten years: past, present and future": deadline on 31st May

As previously announced, the ALMA partnership is organizing a conference in Puerto Varas, Chile, on 4-8 December 2023 to commemorate its first decade of science operations. The conference will take a look back at the Observatory's accomplishments and highlight its latest results, which have already led to many exciting discoveries and 3000+ publications. It will also look forward to its ambitious technical development roadmap that will quadruple the system bandwidth and vastly improve ALMA's observing efficiency for continuum and spectral line science in the next decade. 

This announcement is to remind the community that the deadline for abstract submission for contributed talks, 31st May 2023, is approaching. Abstract submission and registration are available on the conference web page. The conference will have a hybrid format but registration for in-person attendance will be limited to 180 participants and once the capacity of the conference venue is reached, any additional in-person registrants will be placed on a waiting list.

ALMA 10 years conference


ALMA science highlight

ALMA Unveils Dragon Eggs: Earliest stages of massive star formation in the dragon molecular cloud
Overview of the Dragon cloud
Overview of the dragon cloud (also known as G028.37+00.07 or Cloud C), the C2 clump (also known as MM2), and the C2c1 core region. (left) Three-colour image of the Galactic plane in which the IRDC Cloud C can be seen as a strong dark extinction feature. (center top) ALMA 1 mm dust continuum at 0.8" resolution (Liu et al. 2020a). (centre bottom) ALMA 3 mm dust continuum taken from ALMA-IRDC at 3" resolution (Barnes et al. 2021). (right top) Zoom in on the high-resolution 1 mm continuum image taken with only the longest baseline configuration. (right center) ALMA 1 mm dust continuum with a circularised 0.4" beam. (right bottom) Same 1 mm observations imaged with a robust-2 (close to uniform) weighting scheme to maximise the resolution.

Massive stars (i.e. those with initial masses > 8 Msun) inject vast amounts of energy and momentum into the interstellar medium during, and at the end of, their relatively short lives, thereby helping to drive both local and galaxy-scale physical and chemical evolution. However, understanding how massive stars form remains one of the major unanswered questions in astrophysics. One way to test different formation theories is to study the initial conditions of massive star formation, and, in particular, the mass distribution at their very earliest evolutionary stages.

The work of Barnes et al. 2023 analyses a massive core (C2c1) in the well-studied infrared dark cloud (IRDC) called the "dragon cloud" (G028.37+00.07 or "Cloud C"). This work makes use of new high-angular resolution (0.2'', 0.005 pc) 1 mm ALMA dust continuum and molecular line (N2D+ and CO) observations towards the massive core (project 2017.1.00793.S).

These ALMA observations show that this region fragments into two cores C2c1a and C2c1b, which retain significant background subtracted masses of at least ~20 Msun and ~1 Msun, respectively. These cores are very dense and have only trans-sonic non-thermal motions (as measured by N2D+ emission). Together the mass, density and internal motions suggest the cores are gravitationally unstable unless supported by strong magnetic fields. There is tentative evidence for a weak molecular outflow towards the lower-mass core, yet the more massive core remains devoid of any star formation indicators. Together, these results are suggestive of a massive, prestellar core, which has implications for theories of massive star formation.


Meet the ARC


Photo of Thomas Möller

Dr. Thomas Möller

Thomas has been with the German ARC node since its inception and spends much of his time on software and method development. He ported Peter Schilke's XCLASS program to Python to be interoperable with ALMA data and significantly extended its functionality. He also developed new methods for analyzing line spectra to derive their physical parameters.

Thomas' main research interests focus on the formation of high-mass stars and astrochemistry. Because high-mass star-forming regions, such as Sagittarius B2, often have complex and line-rich spectra and have complex chemical and kinematic structures, new analytical methods are needed to extract the large amount of information.

Photo of Nicola Marchili

Dr. Nicola Marchili

Nicola is part of the Italian ARC node since December 2018. His activity is mainly focused on the exploitation of the ALMA archive; he contributed to the successful completion of the Additional Representative Images for Legacy (ARI-L) project, for the creation of imaging products on ALMA Cycle 2-4 datasets. He is also involved with user support and quality assurance.

Nicola's research is focused on the study of multi-wavelength variability of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs) on time scales from hours (intraday/intranight variability) to years. This embraces several fields, from time series analysis to the physics of AGNs, from interstellar and interplanetary scintillation down to space weather. His research interests also comprise cosmic rays, calibration of astronomical data, and the study of the galactic centre, Sgr A*. He joined the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration in 2018, focusing on time-domain properties of Sgr A* and M87*.

Italian node

Group photo of the Italian node

The people of the Italian ARC node. From left to right: Elisabetta Liuzzo, Rosita Paladino, Matteo Bonato, Nicola Marchili, Marcella Massardi, Jan Brand, Kazi Rygl and Ivano Baronchelli.

The Italian ARC node is located in Bologna, at the INAF-Istituto di Radioastronomia (IRA). INAF is the national public research organisation that carries out, promotes and coordinates astronomical research. Among the 17 INAF institutes, IRA contributes to the development and management of the radio facilities distributed throughout the national territory; it coordinates their participation in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) networks, and conducts research in all fields of radio astronomy: for this reason it was chosen to host a node of the European ARC network.

Currently our node is operated by six staff astronomers and two postdocs. Our prime objective is to provide support and training to our community to improve their experience with ALMA data. Around the time of the call for proposals for each new Cycle, we organise a "Proposal Preparation Day". On that occasion we present the instrumental capabilities for the upcoming observing cycle, explain eventual new features in the Observing Tool (OT), new observing modes, restrictions and possibilities. Every successful proposal by an Italian PI is then followed throughout its lifetime by a Contact Scientist from our group. Similarly we attend to archival data mining projects that requested our support via our help-desk. We offer our users remote or face-to-face assistance, computing power, disk space and a high-speed network.

To stimulate collaborations and exchange of ideas, we regularly organise workshops and conferences. The younger generations are introduced to ALMA and mm-astronomy through courses and lecture series that we present at the University of Bologna and SISSA (Trieste), and are further educated through research projects. We also organise tutorials and participate in the I-TRAIN training sessions, in particular on the subjects of our expertises: mm-VLBI, polarimetry and archive mining. The Italian ARC has been leading the ALMA Development Project "Additional Representative Images for Legacy" (ARI-L, Massardi et al. 2021) that has brought the contents of the ALMA Science Archive for Cycles 2-4 at the same level of quality as that of the more recent Cycles.

Our experience with user support and our expertises have led us to head one of the task packages for the SKA Regional Centre Steering Committee and to involvement in The Black Hole Cam collaboration, in the Event Horizon Telescope project and in the EU-funded Opticon RadioNet Pilot (ORP).

To find out more about our activities and how we may help you, please visit our website:


Did you know...

that there is an I-TRAIN on reviewing ALMA proposals? In this video, Violette Impellizzeri from the Allegro ARC node explains the review process and best practices for reviewing ALMA proposals. Please be aware that the timeline described in the video is for Cycle 9.


Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

Gothenburg bridge

Origin and Fate of Dust in Our Universe

Dust grains play a crucial role in many astrophysical processes, from the formation of stars and planets to the evolution of galaxies. However, despite the fundamental importance of interstellar dust, many questions remain regarding its formation, growth, and destruction throughout the Universe. To address these questions, this conference on dust, near and far, is organized in Gothenburg (25th-29th September 2023). The abstract deadline was extended to 4th June.

More information can be found here:

The most ancient spiral galaxy, BRI 1335-0417 resolved by ALMA

Resolving the Extragalactic Universe with ALMA & JWST

We are so excited to invite you to the "Resolving the Extragalactic Universe with ALMA & JWST" international conference from 6th-10th November 2023, focused on the latest scientific results on the high-redshift universe with ALMA and JWST. The conference will be held at Waseda University (Shinjuku, Tokyo).

More information can be found here:


Social media highlight

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