ALMA/ARC News

First announcement: German ALMA Community Days & Proposal Workshop 2015

[15 December 2014] With construction and basic commissioning of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) drawing to a close, the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will issue a Call for Proposals for Cycle 3 on 24 March 2015. The deadline is expected to be on 23 April 2015, with observations starting in October 2015. To prepare the local astronomical community for Cycle 3, the German ARC node organizes the German ALMA Community Days & Proposal Workshop 2015 at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn on 25-27 March 2015. The first day will feature a brief introduction to the basic radio astromonical concepts and terminology for non-radio astronomers. On the second day, several talks will highlight recent scientific results obtained with ALMA, before ALMA's capabilities in Cycle 3, ALMA procedures, ALMA tools and the available help will be presented. The third day will be dedicated to hands-on work in workshops for novice users as well as for advanced users. During these workshops, participants can start to prepare their own ALMA proposals with technical support from experts.

Pre-announcement: German ALMA Community Days & Proposal Workshop 2015

[06 November 2014]

The German ARC node is pleased to invite you to the German ALMA Community Days & Proposal Workshop 2015 at the Argelander Institute for Astronomy in Bonn on 26-27 March 2015. Besides the presentation of recent ALMA science results and developments, we will offer a hands-on proposal workshop during which you can get all the relevant information for the upcoming ALMA Cycle 3 and prepare your own ALMA proposal(s).

New release of ALMA Science Verification data

[08 September 2014]

Two new science verification datasets are now available at http://almascience.eso.org/alma-data/science-verification. Long baseline (1-3 km) capabilities are illustrated with Band 7 and 9 water maser observations. Doppler tracking of ephemeris targets is demonstrated in the Comet Lemmon project.

Course "Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science"

[26 February 2014]

Like in previous years, the German ARC node organizes a course on radio interferometry with lectures and tutorials at the Argelander-Institut für Radioastronomie in Bonn.

The course offers a hands-on overview of major aspects of radio/m/submm interferometry for master students, PhD students and senior astronomers. The lectures start with a general introduction to radio interferometry and data reduction, followed by presentations of special aspects of radio astronomical observations and science given by experts of their respective fields. The course also includes hands-on tutorials, where participants learn how to reduce interferometric data with AIPS and/or CASA. The lectures and tutorials will take place on Tuesdays at 12:00-13:30 (lectures) and 13:45-15:15 (tutorials) from April 15 to July 15. For more information, please follow the link to the course web pages that will become available on the home page of the German ARC node (http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/ARC/) in early March.

We plan to offer remote access to the lectures and tutorials to a limited number of participants and on an experimental basis. If you consider following the course or parts of it from a remote location, please contact us at arc@astro.uni-bonn.de before April 1.

CASA 4.2 for Linux available

[26 February 2014]

The CASA development team have released CASA version 4.2.0 for Linux. Mac users who wish to run CASA on their Macs should NOT upgrade to OSX 10.9!

The CASA team hopes to have a CASA 4.2 release available shortly that will work for Mac OSX 10.7 and 10.8. Since 10.9 entails significant changes, there will not be a CASA 4.2 compatible version.

The new CASA version is available from the CASA homepage http://casa.nrao.edu. Please Follow the links to "Obtaining CASA".

Besides fixing a number of bugs, CASA version 4.2.0 offers new features, listed in http://casa.nrao.edu/release_notes.shtml. Remaining known issues are detailed in http://casa.nrao.edu/release_ki.shtml. The CASA team suggest to subscribe to the CASA announcement mailing list at http://casa.nrao.edu/mail_list.shtml for updates.

Cycle 2 Call for Proposal is now open

[24 October 2013]

The ALMA Director has issued the Cycle 2 Call for Proposals. Please, find the text of a related mail from the European ALMA Regional Center below.

Please be also reminded this year's German ALMA Community Days will focus on the preparation of ALMA Proposals for Cycle 2. The Community Days will be held on 05-06 November at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie of the University of Bonn. Some places are still available. Please see http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/ARC/alma2013.shtml for details.

The ALMA Director, on behalf of the partner organizations and all the personnel in Chile, East Asia, Europe and North America involved in bringing ALMA to Early Science readiness, is pleased to issue the Cycle 2 Call for Proposals.

We invite members of the astronomy community to propose scientific programs to be scheduled within the ALMA Early Science Cycle 2 period which will start in June 2014. This provides a new important opportunity for Early Science from this cutting edge facility. The Cycle 2 period will span 17 months and users of any professional background, nationality or affiliation may submit proposals.

The proposal submission deadline is 15:00 UT on December 5, 2013.

The full Call for Proposals and all supporting documentation are available here: http://almascience.eso.org/proposing/call-for-proposals.

Best regards,
The European ALMA Regional Centre

Cycle 1 Update and Transfer to Cycle 2

[07 October 2013]

Early Science Cycle 1 observations were initially planned to end at October 2013. However, due to delays involving re-prioritization of the commissioning activities being performed in parallel to PI observation and a worker's strike, the end of Cycle 1 observations had to be postponed to May 2014. Even so, part of of the Cycle 1 observations are expected to be carried over to Cycle 2. PIs of High Priority Cycle 1 projects will be contacted via the ALMA helpdesk and offered the opportunity to designate their projects as eligible for transfer into Cycle 2 if they remain uncompleted at the end of Cycle 1. More information can be found at

http://almascience.eso.org/news/status-report-on-cycle-1-3.

A detailed summary of the status of Cycle 1 Early Science observations is available at

http://almascience.eso.org/documents-and-tools/cycle-1/cycle-1-status-update-october-2013.

Cycle 2 Pre-announcement released

[18 September 2013]

The Joint ALMA Observatory has released a pre-announcement for Cycle 2 observations that can be found at

http://almascience.eso.org/news/alma-cycle-2-pre-announcement

Cycle 2 is expected to start in June 2014 and to span 17 months. The Call for Proposals will be issued at the end of October 2013, with an anticipated deadline for proposal submission in early December 2013. Detailed information on Cycle 2 capabilities will be published in the Call for Proposals. Anticipated capabilities are given in the pre-announcement. Principal Investigators are strongly encouraged to submit a notice of intent for each planned Cycle 2 proposal by 15:00 UT on October 10. A status report on Cycle 1 will be published on the Science Portal in early October. It will include an assessment of the completion likelihood of Cycle 1 projects.

The key dates for Cycle 2 are given below. ALMA reserves the right to alter the given dates, should it become necessary to do so.

  • Early October 2013: Publication of Cycle 1 status report on the Science Portal

  • 10 October 2013, 15:00 UT: Deadline for Notices of Intent

  • 24 October 2013: Call for Proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 2, release of Observing Tool, and opening of Archive for proposal submission

  • 5 December 2013: Proposal Deadline

  • Mid April 2014: Result of the proposal review process sent to PIs

  • June 2014: Start of ALMA Cycle 2 observing

  • October 2015: End of ALMA Cycle 2 observing

Please check out the full text of the pre-announcement at

http://almascience.eso.org/news/alma-cycle-2-pre-announcement

German ALMA Community Days 2013: Registration open

[13 September 2013]

The German ALMA Community Days 2013 will be held on 05-06 November at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie of the University of Bonn. The aim of the meeting is the review of ALMA Early Science and the preparation of the German ALMA Community for the upcoming proposal deadline. Various talks will present new tools and new capabilities of ALMA in Cycle 2, the basics of proposal preparation/review and the support available to (prospective) ALMA users. During workshops, participants can prepare their own ALMA proposals under the supervision of experts. The meeting will also feature several ALMA science talks and offer an opportunity to network with other users and ALMA support staff.

During the first day, ALMA Early Science results as well as practical information on ALMA, user support and ALMA-related projects will be presented and discussed. The second day will be dedicated to hands-on work in various workshops.

If you would like to attend the Community Days, please register at

http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/ARC/alma2013.shtml

before October 31. Workshop places are limited and will be assigned on a "first come, first served" basis! There is no hard limit to the attendance of the presentations on the first day. However, we would appreciate it if you register even if you plan to attend only on the first day, so that we can plan coffee, tea and lunch accordingly.

Bad weather and strike delay Cycle 1 operations

[13 September 2013]

Cycle 1 observations could not resume in June as advertised earlier, because of adverse weather conditions and power issues that limited the number of antennas available for science observations. The observatory was able, however, to advance in the software acceptance which was finalised for the 12m-Array in July.

A further delay in restoring operations has been caused by labour issues which fully engaged the observatory until September 7.

The ALMA director, Pierre Cox, representing the ALMA partnership, noted "We are relieved that both sides were able to reach an agreement that enables re-starting the operations of the largest radio-telescope in the world to continue delivering spectacular scientific results."

The process to restore full operational conditions has started, and the Cycle 1 final software acceptance and resumption of PI observations are expected in early October.

(Source: http://www.almaobservatory.org and http://almascience.eso.org)

German ALMA Community Days 2013

[01 September 2013]

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been inaugurated in March 2013. Since the start of its Early Science operations, it has already produced spectacular scientific results and continues to do so during the current observations (Cycle 1). The next cycle of operations (Cycle 2) will again offer a huge increase in sensitivity, spatial resolution and observing modes. The call for proposals, detailing all the new features and capabilities, will be published in late October, with a deadline in early December.

For a review of the Early Science done with ALMA so far and to prepare the community for Cycle 2, the German ARC node organizes the German ALMA Community Days 2013 at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn on 5-6 November 2013. On the first day of the meeting, various talks will present new tools and new capabilities of ALMA in Cycle 2, the basics of proposal preparation/review and the support available to (prospective) ALMA users. The second day will be dedicated to hands-on work in workshops for novice users as well as for advanced users. During these workshops, participants can (learn to) prepare their own ALMA proposals under the supervision of experts. The meeting will also feature several ALMA science talks and offer an opportunity to network with other users and ALMA support staff.

Registration will open in early September. While workshop places are limited and will be assigned on a "first come, first served" basis, the presentations on the first day are open to everyone. For logistical reasons, though, we would appreciate it if you register even if you plan to participate only in the first day.

For any further questions, please contact arc(at)astro.uni-bonn.de

New CASA version 4.2. fixes two bugs

[20 August 2013]

The CASA team have found two issues in the CASA 4.1 release (r24668) that may affect some of your data reduction. Both have been fixed in the current July stable of CASA 4.2 (r25701), that is now available on http://casa.nrao.edu/casa_obtaining.shtml. The CASA 4.1 bugs are:

  • The single dish tools sd.scantable.apply_bltable() and sd.scantable.sub_baseline() were not available in CASA 4.1

  • The field selection in clean failed for field names that contain a "-" (minus) sign as one of the last two characters, e.g. field='SgrB-1'. In that case the selection string is ignored and all fields are selected. This can lead to errors in the synthesized beam, flux, and structure of the images. Selection by field id is not affected.

For the second bug, see also the article in the ALMA knowledgebase at

https://help.almascience.org/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/178/5/field-selection-by-name-leads-to-wrong-flux-in-casa-34-up-to-41-when-last-two-characters-of-name-contain---minus.

Please check your data reduction scripts if you are affected, and download the CASA4.2 r25701 distribution for a bug-fixed version.

If you have questions, please consult the CASA helpdesk https://help.nrao.edu/ for general CASA problems, or https://help.almascience.org/ for ALMA-related issue.

or start discussion threads on the NRAO User's Forum:

https://science.nrao.edu/forums/.

(Source: NRAO)

Final report on ALMA Cylcle 0 available

[20 August 2013]

A final report on ALMA Cycle 0 is now available. This report, presented as a downloadable PDF file, provides the final status of ALMA Cycle 0 observations as well as an overview of how observing progressed, including performance statistics per band, LST range and of other parameters. It also provides a historical record of what was done in Cycle 0, and should help proposers to prepare observations for future Cycles.

The report can be downloaded from

http://almascience.eso.org/Cycle0Summary2013June12SP.pdf.

(Source: almascience.eso.org)

ALMA Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 Timelines

[03 June 2013]

The last two months were mostly dedicated to comissioning and improvements to infrastructure and overall system stability. ALMA is now ready to resume observations of the highest priority Cycle 1 projects in June 2013, implying a modified timeline for Cycle 2, as follows:

  • Cycle 1 Early Science observations will be done until the end of May 2014 (Cycle 1 DDT proposals will also be accepted until that date);

  • The call for proposals for Cycle 2 observations will be made in October 2013, while the deadline for proposal submission will be early December 2013. Cycle 2 observations are expected to start in June 2014.

Detailed timelines as well as the capabilities to be offered during Cycle 2 will be announced in the call for proposals.

CASA 4.1.0 is now available

[31 May 2013]

The latest CASA version is already available at the CASA homepage: http://casa.nrao.edu/. The new version is available for Linux (RedHat 5.7 and 6.3 - 64-bit) and Mac OS (10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 - 64 bit) operating systems. More information on how to obtain CASA (download and installation instructions) can be found in http://casa.nrao.edu/casa_obtaining.shtml.

2013 European Radio Interferometry School - ERIS 2013

[22 March 2013]

ERIS 2013 will take place in Dwingeloo, The Netherlands, from 9 to 13 September 2013, and it will be hosted by ASTRON - Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy - and JIVE - Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe. This school is the fifth of a series of summer schools supported by RadioNet. ERIS will provide a week of lectures and tutorials on how to achieve scientific results from radio interferometry. The topics covered by the lectures/tutorials will include:

  • Calibration and imaging of continuum, spectral line, and polarization data;

  • Low frequency (LOFAR domain), cm-wave (e-MERLIN domain), decimetre-wave (HI/OH domain), high frequency (ALMA/IRAM domain), and VLBI interferometry;

  • Extracting the information from astronomical data and interpreting the results;

  • Choosing the most suitable array and observing plan for your project.

A preliminary programme is posted on the ERIS webpage: http://www.astron.nl/eris2013/programme.php

The school will be hosted by ASTRON and JIVE (Dwingeloo). The participants and lecturers will be accommodated in local hotels. A registration fee of 150 Euro is requested, which will cover accommodation and half board for the 5 days of the school, from the arrival on 8 September to the departure on 13 September 2013.

Due to logistical limitations the school will be able to accommodate up to 80 participants. Since a considerable feedback has been received after the first announcement, potential participants are encouraged to proceed with the online registration as soon as possible. Later registrants will be put on a waiting list.

Further information can be found at http://www.astron.nl/eris2013/.

(Source: ERIS 2013 LOC)

UK National Astronomy Meeting NAM2013

[22 March 2013]

The UK National Astronomy Meeting will take place in St. Andrews, Scotland, from 1 to 5 July 2013 (http://www.nam2013.co.uk/). There are two sessions (covering five slots) focussing on ALMA science:

Anyone with current or prospective ALMA, or complementary, projects, are invited to submit an Abstract for either session, by the deadline of 19 March. Talks will be transfered between sessions if necessary to fit as many people in as possible. If you want to contact the organisers informally or have a strong preference for when you want to speak, please email Anita Richards amsr@jb.man.ac.uk and Timothy Davis tdavis@eso.org.

ALMA staff will be available in the session room during tea breaks, and at other times on the ALMA stand, to answer questions.

(Source: http://www.alma.ac.uk)

Science with ALMA Band 2 Workshop

[22 March 2013]

ALMA Band 2 covers 65 GHz to about 90 GHz (3.3 - 4.6 mm wavelength). The workshop is to discuss and develop the science case for Band 2 in preparation for the future funding of the design and development of receivers for this band.

In developing the science case there are two important considerations in addition to the new frequency range band 2 would make accessible with ALMA. First, the enhanced science possible if a single receiver could be developed to simultaneously cover from 65 GHz to 116 GHz, encompassing both bands 2 and 3. Second, the possibility of having a 16 GHz instantaneous bandwidth. The aim of the workshop is:

  • to assess the science which Band 2 and a Band 2+3 system enable

  • to identify a number of top-level science cases,

  • to identify the impact Band 2 can have across the full range of ALMA science areas.

This workshop is part of an ESO funded ALMA Development project. There is no registration fee for the workshop and some funds are available to partially support some participants.

Organising committee: Gary Fuller (Manchester) Carlos De Breuck (ESO) Leonardo Testi (ESO) Maite Beltran (Arcetri) Leslie Hunt (Arcetri) Daniela Vergani (Bologna)

Please see http://www.alma.ac.uk/other/alma-band-2-workshop/alma-band-2-workshop for more details and registration

(Source: UK ARC Node)

myXCLASS-Interface for CASA

[21 February 2013]

The group of Peter Schilke present a toolbox for the Common Astronomy Software Applications package (CASA) containing a couple of new functions for modeling interferometric and single dish data. The toolbox contains an interface for the model optimizer package MAGIX (modeling and analysis generic interface for external numerical codes), which helps to find the best description of the data using a certain model, i.e., finding the parameter set that most closely reproduces the data.

Additionally, the toolbox provides a function to model the data by using the myXCLASS program. The myXCLASS program models the data by solving the radiative transfer equation for an isothermal object in one dimension, whereas the finite source size and dust attenuation are considered as well. Futhermore, the toolbox contains an interface for the CDMS (Cologne Database for Molecular Spectroscopy) database.

Please see http://www.astro.uni-koeln.de/projects/schilke/myXCLASSInterface for all the details.

CASA 4.0.1 fixes serious bug

[21 February 2013]

A serious bug was reported in the CASA-4.0 release. The CASA team have analyzed the error and found an inconsistency in the uvw sign convention in CASA. Details can be found in the following memo: http://casa.nrao.edu/Memos/CoordConvention.pdf.

In summary, only flagging based on shadowing criteria will be affected, and the flags are applied to the shadowing rather than the shadowed antennas. Consequently, shadowing flagging will have flagged good data but left bad data unflagged. This can lead to calibration and imaging problems depending on the setup of the observations and subsequent flagging strategies.

The shadowing flagging issue appeared in CASA 4.0 and higher in the "flagdata" task.

In CASA 3.4 and lower the "tflagdata" task is affected, but not the regular "flagdata" task.

It was decided to issue patched versions of CASA 4.0 and higher:

  • CASA 4.0.1 is now available to replace the latest CASA 4.0 release.

  • The latest CASA "stable" version, r22854 and higher, also include the patch for this problem.

You may download the patched versions from the CASA download page: http://casa.nrao.edu/casa_obtaining.shtml

For additional questions, please consult the CASA helpdesk:

(Source: Casa-users mailing list)

First announcement: Science with ALMA band 11

[23 February 2013]

Open workshop: SCIENCE WITH ALMA BAND 11 Queen's College, University of Oxford, UK, March 19th-20th, 2013

There are three atmospheric windows in the 1.0-1.6 THz frequency range. Ultra-high-resolution interferometry in the supra-terahertz windows cannot be achieved using any other ground-based facility, and it would exploit ALMA's capability to the limit. ESO has initiated a study that will result in a report on the scientific case for supra-terahertz operation. The aims of the Workshop are to

  • assess the scope of the scientific opportunities available,

  • develop the programmes within each of the main themes;

  • identify synergies with other space-borne and ground- based facilities; and

  • identify a number of top-level science cases.

Topics include, but not exclusively, continuum emission from cold molecular clouds, far-infrared spectroscopy of galactic and extragalactic ISM cooling lines such as [CII],[NII],[OI], and [CI] and CO, light-hydride observations of prestellar cores, and solar-planet and extra-solar-planet observations.

There will be no registration fee. If you would like to take part in this meeting, and additionally if you would like to give a 15 min presentation on some aspect of a possible science case, please email almab11@physics.ox.ac.uk.

Scientific Organizing Committee: Stafford Withington (Cambridge, Chair) Brian Ellison (RAL) Robert Laing (ESO) John Richer (Cambridge) Dimitra Rigopoulou (Oxford) Leonardo Testi (ESO) Ghassan Yassin (Oxford).

The full text of the announcement can be found at http://www.alma.ac.uk/events/science-with-alma-band-11

CASA 4.0.0 released

[23 February 2013]

Linux and Mac distributions of CASA 4.0.0 have been released and can now be downloaded from the CASA webpage http://casa.nrao.edu (follow the link "Obtaining CASA").

CASA, the Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) package is being developed by NRAO, ESO, and NAOJ and is used for the offline reduction and analysis of both ALMA and EVLA data. CASA is fully scriptable. Full support is provided for ALMA, VLA, and JVLA formats, but almost any data that can be written in uvfits format can be imported and reduced in CASA (for example, CARMA, SMA, ATCA).

The release notes and a list of known issues can be found at http://casa.nrao.edu/current_casa.shtml

First ALMA science data have become public

[23 February 2013]

It is ALMA policy to make all science data public after a proprietary period of (usually) one year. As the first ALMA Cycle 0 data have been released to the PIs one year ago, these data have become public on Friday, December 7, 2012. The data as well as further Cycle 0 data in the future can be obtained from http://almascience.org/alma-data

(source: ESO ARC node)

ALMA Update: End of Cycle 0 and start of Cycle 1

The inaugural Cycle 0 Early Science observing season for ALMA was completed with a 40-hr session over the New Year (Dec. 31 to Jan. 1). In Cycle 0, data were observed and processed on a best efforts basis; 96% of the 113 Highest Priority projects were fully or partially observed. So far quality-assessed data have been delivered to the PIs for project components (Scheduling Blocks or SBs) that reached the requested sensitivity. Over the next two months, the remaining SBs will be reviewed and delivered to PIs.

The science program for the next observing season, Cycle 1 Early Science, was announced in November 2012. Observations for the first batch of high priority projects are being currently prepared. PIs of these projects will be contacted by staff from one of the ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs) or their affiliated nodes when the Phase 2 materials for their projects are ready for review and approval. Proposers of Target of Opportunity (ToO) projects that were awarded highest priority status will be able to submit triggers for observations that fulfill the selection criteria specified in their proposal as of March 1, 2013. Also as of March 1, the Joint ALMA Observatory will accept proposals for Director Discretionary Time (DDT).

Please see http://almascience.eso.org/news/completion-of-cycle-0-observing-and-distribution-of-data-sets-2 for all the details.

(source: ESO Science Portal)

New server hardware for the German ARC node

The German ARC node has recently ordered dedicated computer hardware to serve ARC visitors and staff when reducing ALMA data.

The new server will be equipped with 16 Intel S520 solid state disks (SSDs) with 480 GB capacity each, thus providing ~6 TB of very fast local storage. This special setup is owed to the fact that data reduction with CASA is mostly I/O-limited; it promises very fast data access due to both the high data transfer rates and low latencies of modern SSDs. The server will have 16 CPUs and 128 GB of memory and hence will supply ample computing power for reducing data from the full ALMA array.

Additional RAID space of order 50 TB on traditional hard drives will be attached to this server via fast fibre link connection, thus providing relatively fast intermediate storage for reduced ALMA data.

The server and accompanying RAID system will be delivered in December 2012. Thorough tests of the system will follow to optimize the setup, especially of the SSDs. After that, the server will be ready to serve the ARC node's guests and staff.

ARTIST Radiative Transfer package released

In November 2012, the ARTIST team led by Jes Jorgensen (formerly University of Bonn, now University of Copenhagen) released ARTIST, a radiative transfer package that is meant to be used by observers both when preparing and interpreting ALMA observations. The ARTIST package comprises:

  • An innovative radiative transfer code using adaptive gridding that allows simulations of sources with arbitrary (3D) structures, ensuring rapid convergence even for molecules with a complex level structure, e.g., H2O.

  • Tools for modeling the polarization of line and dust emission, information that will come with full-science ALMA observations.

  • A library of pre-coded common models (e.g. collapse and disks models) for the user to use easily. Models may be modified and extended without coding. The addition of user-supplied models is possible and easy.

  • A Python-based comprehensive interface with a Graphical User Interface connecting these packages and providing links to external codes (RATRAN, RADMC, RADMC-3D).

Further information can be found at ARTIST's webpage (http://youngstars.nbi.dk/artist), from which the ARTIST package can be downloaded.

ARTIST was developed by scientists at the Universities of Bonn, Copenhagen, Leiden, Barcelona, and at the Onsala Space Observatory and the JPL. The project was supported by national funding agencies within the EU/ASTRONET framework.

Results of the Proposal Review Process released

The scientific assessment of the 1133 science proposals submitted for ALMA Early Science Cycle 1 has been completed. Seventy-eight science assessors from all over the world have evaluated the expected scientific value of these proposals. As a result, the most promising proposals of each ALMA region have been selected as those most likely to be completed using the ALMA Cycle 1 capabilities, after their technical feasibility was confirmed by fifteen technical assessors from the Joint ALMA Observatory and the three ALMA Regional Centers. The 196 highest-priority projects cover a wide range of science and are distributed across the five broad ALMA science categories.

Principal Investigators (PIs) have been notified of the outcome of the Proposal Review Process by email.

For more details, including a list of the highest-priority proposals and a pie chart of their association with the different science categories, please go to http://almascience.eso.org/news/alma-early-science-cycle-1-outcome-of-the-proposal-review-process

New installment of Science Verification data

[Updated] A new installment of Science Verification data has been released on 23 October 2012. The data sets included in this release correspond to targets suggested by the community and are listed in Table 2 of the Science Verification web page: http://almascience.eso.org/alma-data/science-verification.

The release includes the following Science Verification datasets:

  • The protoplanetary disk HD163296: multiple spectral lines, demonstrating the mixed modes capability, at Bands 6 and 7;
  • The Galactic Centre, Sgr A*: recombination lines at Band 3.

Future science verification releases will also be preceded by an announcement.

Update on ALMA Cycle 0 observations

The Joint ALMA Observatory has released an update on ALMA Cycle 0 observations. The article describes past and current configurations, the progress made in each Early Science observing session, the number of scheduling blocks in the various stages of the quality assurance process and other statistical information on Cycle 0. The full article can be downloaded from the section "General News" at the ALMA Science Portal at ESO at http://almascience.eso.org/.

ESO Science Release eso1239: Surprising Spiral Structure around R Scl

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This is the first time that such a structure, along with an outer spherical shell, has been found around a red giant star. It is also the first time that astronomers could get full three-dimensional information about such a spiral. The strange shape was probably created by a hidden companion star orbiting the red giant. This work is one of the first ALMA early science results to be published and it appears in the journal Nature this week.

The release, images and videos are available on: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1239/

Translations are available in: Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese/Brazil, Portuguese/Portugal, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian

Space Scoop - the children's version of this release is available at: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1239/kids/

Practical Radio Interferometry 2012/2013

The course "Practical Radio Interferometry" offers a hands-on overview of all major aspects of radio interferometry for master students, PhD students and more senior astronomers. The lecture starts with a general introduction to interferometry and data reduction, followed by presentations of special aspects of radio astromonical observations given by experts of their respective fields. The course also comprises a hands-on tutorial, where participants learn how to reduce interferometric data with AIPS and CASA.


International ALMA conference "The first year of ALMA science"

The ALMA Joint Observatory announces that the international conference "The first year of ALMA science" will be held in Hotel Cumbres Patagonicas, Puerto Varas, Chile on December 12-15, 2012.

ALMA Early Science operations have started at the end of September 2011. Over one hundred high science profile projects have been identified as high priority for execution. The first exciting scientific results from Science Verification datasets and Cycle 0 observations are coming out in refereed journals since the beginning of 2012. At the end of the year, the ALMA users community will be in a position to review the first science results produced by this new and unique facility. The conference will cover all the ALMA Science topics covered by Early Science observations, from observations of the Solar System bodies to objects in our own Galaxy, the local to high redshift Universe. While the conference will obviously focus on ALMA observational results, we plan to include presentations and discussions on related theoretical implications and predictions as well as relevant complementary data from other major facilities. The conference will also be an ideal venue to discuss the scientific priorities for the ALMA development plan upgrades in the context of the first results from Early Science.

To allow more ALMA users to propose contributions based on results from their Cycle 0 projects we selected a late deadline for abstract contributions on Oct 27, 2012.

Important deadlines:

  • - Registration opens: June 1st, 2012
  • - Registration deadline: Sept 15, 2012
  • - Hotel reservation deadline: Sept 20, 2012
  • - Abstracts deadline: Oct 27, 2012
  • - Contributed talks selection: Nov 16, 2012
  • - Conference dates: Dec 12-15, 2012

Conference website: http://www.almasc.org/2012/, Conference email: asc2012@alma.cl

The conference is co-sponsored by the Joint ALMA Observatory and the ALMA partners (ESO, NAOJ and NRAO) with additional support provided by the EC-FP7 Radionet3 project.

A limited amount of funding is provided by the ALMA partners and by Radionet3 to support participants who need funding to attend the conference. Participants who would like to apply for financial support to attend the conference need to fill in the appropriate box in the registration form at: http://www.almasc.org/2012/index.php/registration


ALMA splinter meeting at the AG meeting in Hamburg

The annual meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft 2012 will take place in Hamburg on 24-28 September 2012, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Hamburg Observatory in Hamburg Bergedorf. In this context, the German ARC node organizes the splinter meeting "First science with ALMA" on Friday, 28 September. We invite ALMA users working on Cycle 0 or Science Verification data to to present their first scientific results. In addition, we encourage prospective ALMA users to talk about their science projects and ALMA-related results. Please submit the abstract of your contribution by September 9 via the main registration and abstract submission website, checking "ALM - ALMA" as the approriate splinter session.

Conference website: http://www.hs.uni-hamburg.de/AG2012/index.php?lang=en.


ALMA Cycle 1 Call for Proposals now closed

The ALMA Cycle1 deadline has now passed. Over 1100 proposals were received from astronomers around the world. The Cycle 1 review panel meetings are scheduled for October 1-5, 2012. PI's can expect to hear results of the Cycle 1 reviews in November of this year. Cycle 1 science observing is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2013 and will span 10 months. (source: ESO Science Portal, http://almascience.eso.org.)


New Science Verification Data

A new installment of Science Verification data is available at http://almascience.org/alma-data/science-verification. This release contains IRAS16293 band 9 data. The source, the data and the data reduction procedure are described in the accompanying CASA Guide. This is the first ALMA band 9 Science Verification data release and represents a milestone for ALMA construction

In addition, a new program of Science Verification aimed at testing new capabilities of ALMA for Cycle 1 and beyond will begin on June 20, and the list of suggested targets will be available shortly at http://almascience.org/alma-data/science-verification.


ALMA Cycle 1: Call for Proposals now open

The ALMA Director, on behalf of the partner organizations and all the personnel in Chile, East Asia, Europe and North America involved in bringing ALMA to Early Science readiness, is pleased to issue the Cycle 1 Call for Proposals. All members of the astronomical community are invited to propose scientific programmes to be scheduled within the ALMA Early Science Cycle 1 period, which is expected to start on January 1, 2013, and to span 10 months. Deadline for submission is July 12.

The full Call and all the information and tools relevant for proposal preparation are available through the ALMA Science Portal at http://almascience.eso.org.

The ALMA Helpdesk facility can be accessed via the Science Portal. Additional user support, including face-to-face assistance, is provided by the European ALMA Regional Centre at ESO and at its nodes. Please see http://www.eso.org/sci/facilities/alma/arc.html for more details.


From stars to black holes: mm-VLBI with ALMA and other telescopes

We would like to invite you to participate in a one day (noon-to-noon) workshop on European perspectives for mm-VLBI with ALMA and other mm Telescopes. Within a few years this development can not only provide unprecedented spatial resolution down to the event horizon of the Galactic center black hole, but also open up a host of other scientific possibilities that will benefit a wide range of astrophysics. The time is right now to look at the science interests of the European community.

For more information, please go to http://www.astro.ru.nl/mmVLBI2012


Additions to the latest release of Science Verification data

There are two additions to the latest release of Science Verification data:

  • BR1202: A second dataset on this source taken shortly after the first has been added to the download directory. These data were taken under very good conditions and at higher elevation, so that they have better sensitivity than the first data set, but they lack the information on the system temperature.
  • IRAS16293: The raw dataset with the full spectral resolution has been added to the download directory. Please take into account that this is a large file! Downloading and reducing the data will take patience.

These extra files can be found on the Science Portal, along with an explanation on the Portal page and in the updated Readme files.


ALMA Cycle 1: Notices of Intent

Just as for Cycle 0, the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) solicits Notices of Intent in order to optimize preparations for the assessment of the proposals submitted for Cycle 1. Principal Investigators are strongly encouraged to submit a Notice of Intent by May 15 using the following link:

http://almascience.eso.org/news/call-for-proposals/notice-of-intent

The web form contains only a few basic categories of required information, so filling the web form should take no more than a minute. One form should be completed and submitted for each planned Cycle 1 proposal.

Please note that users need to be registered and logged in to the ALMA Science Portal to access the Notice of Intent form.


Third batch of Science Verification data

The third installment of Science Verification data is now available. The data sets include:
  • BR1202-0725 at z=4.7: redshifted CII line in Band 7;
  • IRAS16293: Band 6 observations centered on the CH3CN ladder and HNCO;
  • Centaurus A: a 48pt mosaic of the central parsecs in Band 6;
  • Orion KL: several tunings combined to provide a spectral survey in Band 6.

Raw and calibrated data are available for download in the ALMA Portal, as well as calibration tables and image cubes. Reduction and imaging CASA scripts are also available.


Pre-announcement of ALMA Cycle 1 Science Observations

The European ALMA Science Center has released a preliminary announcement of the next cycle of observations with ALMA. Early Science Cycle 1 is expected to start in January 2013. A Call for Proposals will be issued at 31 May 2012, and the deadline for proposal submission will be 12 July 2012. Cycle 1 operations will be conducted on a best efforts basis, similar to the current Cycle 0 observations.

As done for Cycle 0 projects, users are encouraged to submit a Notice of Intent by May 15. This procedure helps the observatory to prepare the assessment of the proposals to be submitted in Cycle 1.

Cycle 1 anticipated capabilities will comprise:

  • Thirty two 12-m antennas in the main array, and nine 7-m antennas (short baselines) and two 12-m antennas (for making single-dish maps) in the Atacama Compact Array (ACA)
  • Bands 3, 6, 7 and 9 (wavelengths of about 3, 1.3, 0.8 and 0.45 mm)
  • Baselines up to 1km
  • Both single field interferometry and mosaics
  • Mixed correlator modes (both high and low frequency resolution in the same observation)

More information on the incoming Cycle 1 operations can be found here.


German ALMA Community Days 2012

[22 February 2012] As a review of Cycle 0 and in preparation for Cycle 1, the German ARC node will host the German ALMA Community Days in Bonn on 05/06 June 2012.

Besides an introduction to ALMA and its capabilities in cycle 1, the first day will feature a review of the proposal submission and review process and an overview of the support available to German astronomers by the EU-ARC and the German ARC node. In addition, the first science results of approved ALMA cycle 0 projects will be presented. The second day will be devoted to hands-on work, with an opportunity to learn how to use the ALMA-OT or to get one-on-one advice on the technical aspects of the participants' own proposals.

Subsequent announcements concerning this event will be sent to the German ARC node mailing list. To subscribe to this list, please click here.


Cycle 0 status report and timeline for Cycle 1

[02 February 2012] A status report on ALMA Cycle 0 operations and a preliminary timeline for Cycle 1 have been released on the ALMA Science Portal at ESO.

An official update on ALMA cycle 0 operations and a preliminary timeline for cycle 1, released by ESO on 01 February 2012:

"ALMA started scientific operations on 30 September 2011. While the quality of the data being collected is excellent, the completion rate of projects is lower than planned. To increase the likelihood that most PIs of the highest priority Cycle 0 projects will receive scientifically valuable data sets, the Cycle 0 observing period will be extended until the end of 2012. This extension will not delay completion of the array.
The observatory plans to release information regarding the capabilities and timeline for ALMA Early Science Cycle 1 in April 2012. The proposal deadline is expected to be in July 2012 with the start of Cycle 1 observations at the beginning of 2013.

Background

Early Science Cycle 0 observations have been conducted in blocks of 4-5 days every two weeks. By the end of January 2012 approximately 50% of the anticipated observing time for Cycle 0 has been used and we estimate that roughly 25% of the highest priority observations have been completed. While consistent with the "best efforts" basis of ALMA Early Science this is lower than had been planned. Sixteen calibrated, quality assured datasets have been delivered to nine PIs (by the end of January 2012). The data clearly demonstrate the scientific potential of ALMA, and feedback from the PIs has been positive.
Measures are being implemented to increase the observing efficiency, and during the additional period of Cycle 0 observing the fraction of ALMA time used for scientific operations will increase from the current fraction of 33% to around 50%. This corresponds to the intended fraction of time planned for science operations if Cycle 1 had begun as planned. With the increasing number of antennas it will be possible to schedule observations using the extended or compact configuration during the latter part of Cycle 0. There is also an increased likelihood that "filler projects", particularly in band 3, will be observed.
Commissioning and science verification activities are being conducted in parallel with Cycle 0 observations. More ALMA Science Verification data has recently been posted to the Science Portal, and some has already started appearing on the astronomy abstract servers.
The highest priority of the ALMA project continues to be the completion of the full array, expected in the second half of 2013."

(source: ALMA Science Portal at ESO)


ALMA at the Germany-UK Astronomy Meeting and RAS National Astronomy Meeting

[16 January 2012, last updated 22 February 2012] On 27-30 March 2012, the Germany-UK Astronomy meeting and Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting will take place in Manchester, UK. The German, UK and ESO ARC nodes jointly organize an ALMA session and an ALMA lunch on 27/28 March and will be present with an ALMA stall during the whole meeting.

We invite you to participate in the Germany-UK Astronomy Meeting and Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting on 27-30 March 2012 in Manchester, UK, and in particular in the ALMA sessions and lunch meeting on 27/28 March.

The deadline for abstract submission was 3 February, with late abstracts accepted until 13 February. Updates to submitted abstracts were possible for accepted talks up to the middle of February.

The Astronomische Gesellschaft offers financial support to early-stage scientists at German institution who are employed only part-time and who have no other travel funds. For further information, please go to the corresponding webpage of the Astronomische Gesellschaft.

Evolution with ALMA - first science results on the cool universe

ALMA is the most ambitious ground-based telescope in operation, sensitive to mm and sub-mm wavelengths which are absorbed by water vapour at sea level. When complete (in 2013) it will comprise 66 antennas; currently at least 16 are being used for science operations. The first Cycle 0 science results will be presented, such as on stellar and planetary evolution, star formation and distant galaxies associated with intense star formation. We invite successful Cycle 0 proposers or prospective Cycle 1 ALMA users to talk about their science. The ALMA session and also a lunchtime meeting will update the astronomical community on ALMA construction progress and the support available for prospective ALMA users including preparation for the Cycle 1 deadline.

Speakers include:
Matthias Maercker: ALMA's first look at evolved stars: thermal pulses and sculpted winds
Anthony Rushton: Early ALMA observations towards the Galactic Centre
Cinthya N. Herrera: Energy dissipation tracing the early stages of cluster formation in the Antennae galaxy merger
Robert Laing, John Richer: Updates on ALMA capabilities and development
Martin Zwaan: Preparing for ALMA Cycle 1

In addition, we will run an ALMA stall including support for Cycle 1 proposers.

Looking forward to seeing you in Manchester,

UK, German and ESO ARCs


New Science Verification Data release

[04 January 2012] New sets of Science Verification (SV) data have been released by the ALMA science team:

  • The galaxy pair The Antennae: high spectral resolution, mosaic data at Band 6
  • The spiral galaxy M100: low spectral resolution, mosaic data at Band 3
  • Sgr*A, the Galaxy Center: recombination lines at Band 6
These data are already available for download here. Calibration and imaging scripts and the final products are released together with the raw ALMA data. Incoming SV data will be available soon: Sgr*A (Band 3), IRAS 16293-2422 (Band 6) and Orion BN/KL (line and continuum data at Band 9).

Early Science has started!

[03 October 2011] Exciting news! The first scheduled observations of approved proposals are underway. ALMA opens its eyes. There are about 20 radio antennas at on the Chajnantor plateau right now, at an elevation of 5000 m. A very interesting comparison of how radio and optical data are quite correlated can be seen here. It is possible to see how the submm data trace the cold gas usually associated with opaque material in optical images.


ALMA at the meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft

[13 September 2011] The European ALMA Regional Center and the German ARC node will be present at the annual meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft in Heidelberg on 19-23 September 2011.

The European ALMA Regional Center and the German ARC node Bonn/Cologne be present with an information booth during the whole meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft. In addition, we will give an update on ALMA and the support available to the German community on Wednesday afternoon during the splinter meeting LOFAR/SKA (VRS).

Please come and visit us at our information booth!


ALMA Cycle 0 proposal assessment finished

[06 September 2011] The scientific and technical assessment of the 919 proposal has been concluded. 112 proposals fulfilled the Early Science scientific requirements and were accepted for observations. They are sorted as follows:

  • Cosmology and the high redshift universe: 18.8%;
  • Galaxies and galactic nuclei: 25.9%
  • ISM, star formation/protoplanetary disks and their astrochemistry, exoplanets: 44.6%;
  • Stellar evolution, the Sun and the solar system: 10.7%.
The German community had 4 proposals accepted: 3 from the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) and 1 from the Argelander Institute for Astronomie (AIfA, Bonn University), both institutions in Bonn. A complete list of the reviewers (and a picture) can be found here.

New Science Verification Data Release

The second installment of Science Verification data is now available. They consist of mosaic observations of the Antennae galaxies, a pair of merging galaxies with a very particular structure. The calibrated and uncalibrated (raw) data sets can be downloaded here, together with the final products (continuum images and data cubes). A CASA guide for the data reduction steps can be found here here.


ALMA Cycle 0 proposal submission finished

Submission of proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 closed on June 30. 919 proposals were received and sorted as follows:

  • Cosmology and the high redshift universe: 20%;
  • Galaxies and galactic nuclei: 27%
  • ISM, star formation/protoplanetary disks and their astrochemistry, exoplanets: 40%;
  • Stellar evolution, the Sun and the solar system: 13%.

These proposals will be assessed by astronomers with expertise on each of the above categories. They will be distributed over 8 ALMA Review Panels (ARP), where all the scientific assessment will be carried out. In total, each ARP will evaluate approximately 100 proposals. The technical assessment will be carried out by the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the ALMA Regional Centers.


First European antenna arrives to the AOS

The first European antenna (DA41) was transported to the Array Operations Site (AOS) in the Chajnantor plateau on 27 July 2011. The european antenna joins the other ones provided by the international ALMA partners, adding up to the 16 components required for Early Science observations.

The antenna has been successfully tested for three months in the Operations Support Facility (2900 meters). The next step is to perform technical tests under the conditions at 5000 meters over the sea level.

European Antenna

ALMA Science Verification Data Release

The Joint ALMA Observatory announces the availability of the first two ALMA Science Verification datasets:

  • The protoplanetary disk TW Hya at Band 7 (0.87 mm)
  • The luminous infrared galaxy NGC 3256 at Band 3 (3 mm)

The data sets are available through the ALMA Science Portal, via the ALMA Data / Science Verification tab.

Uncalibrated and calibrated data are available, as well as images and data cubes. Data reduction guides are also provided.

These datasets demonstrate the early capabilities of ALMA. The projects were observed before 10 antennas were available and while many of the subsystems were still being tested, so they should not be construed to represent the quality of the data that can be expected during Early Science. They are provided here as a means for the user to become acquainted with the ALMA data structure, observing strategies and reduction techniques.

This latest step towards the start of ALMA operations is the result of a great deal of work by many people from all over the world, particularly in this case those responsible for the delivery of the ALMA archive, the Science Team responsible for Commissioning and Science Verification, and the teams responsible for Science Operations at the ARCs and at the JAO.


ALMA Call for Proposals - Cycle 0

The ALMA Cycle 0 Call for Proposals is now open

The first ever Call for Proposals with ALMA has now been issued. Members of the astronomy community are invited to propose for scientific observations to be scheduled within the ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 period which is expected to start on 30 September 2011 or shortly thereafter. This provides an important opportunity for first science from this cutting edge facility. ALMA Early Science Cycle 0 will span 9 months. It is anticipated that 500-700 hours of array time will be available for Cycle 0 projects. Any astronomer may submit a proposal for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0.

Visit the ALMA Science Portal for more details.

Plan for ALMA Early Science Cycle 0

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) expects to start Early Science observations (Cycle 0) on a best effort basis late in 2011 and a call for proposals will be issued at the end of the first quarter of 2011. The purpose of Early Science will be to deliver scientifically useful results to the astronomy community and to facilitate the ongoing characterization of ALMA systems and instrumentation as the capability of the array continues to grow. Early Science will not be allowed to delay unduly the construction of the full 66-antenna array, but nonetheless provides an important opportunity for first science from this cutting edge facility. Early Science will continue through Cycle 1 and until construction of the ALMA array is complete.


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