German ALMA Regional Center (ARC) Node

The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a revolutionary interferometer for mm and submm astronomy in the Atacama desert in Northern Chile. It is operated by a global collaboration between Europe (ESO), North America (NRAO) and East Asia (NAOJ), in cooperation with Chile. The interface between ALMA and the user communities is provided by three ALMA Regional Centres (ARCs) in Europe, North America and East Asia.

The European ARC (EU ARC) is organized as a coordinated network with a central node at ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München and regional nodes located in Bologna(I), Bonn/Cologne(D), Grenoble(F), Leiden(NL), Manchester(GB), Ondrejov(CZ), and Onsala(S). The concept and the implementation of the EU ARC network has been described in a recent article in the ESO Messenger (Hatziminaoglou et al. 2015, Msngr. 162, 24).

The German ARC node is a collaboration of the universities of Bonn and Cologne. Its headquarters are located at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn. The German ARC node provides services to ALMA operations, the local astronomical community and the general public:

Newsletters and Announcements

If you wish to stay informed about the latest ALMA developments, calls for proposals, data releases, conferences/workshops and other information, please check our announcements and/or subscribe to our newsletters.
  • European ARC Announcements are provided by ESO and the European ALMA Nodes that together make up the European ALMA Regional Centre Network. With their very short turn-around time, they complement the regularly published newsletters. The European ARC Announcements can be found here
  • The European ARC Newsletter is a compilation of recent European ALMA Regional Centre Announcement items. In addition, the Newsletter informs you about various developments in the ALMA Programme, as well as about ALMA or ALMA-related meetings. More information on the newsletter can be found here. To start receiving the European ARC Newsletter, please send an email to the Editor.
  • In addition, the DARC newsletter features announcements and news particularly relevant to the German ALMA community. If interested, please subscribe here. More information on the newsletter including an alternative way of subscribing to it can be found here.

Recent News

First announcement: ALMA Community Days 2017

The next Call for Proposals for observing time with ALMA (Cycle 5) will be issued in March 2017. The deadline for proposals is expected to be on 20 April 2017, with observations starting in October 2017. For more details, please see the ALMA Cycle 5 Pre-announcement and the Additional Information for Cycle 5 Proposals.

To prepare the local astronomical community for the Cycle 5 proposal deadline, the German ARC node organizes ALMA Community Days at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn on 27/28 March 2017 and at the Center for Space and Habitability in Bern on 03 April 2017 in collaboration with the hosting institutes. While these events are open to all ALMA users and prospective ALMA users, preference will be given to astronomers from the local community (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

German ALMA Community Days (Bonn, 27/28 March 2017)
In Bonn, the first day will feature an introduction to the basic radio astronomical concepts and terminology for non-radio astronomers. The second day will be devoted to practical information on ALMA-related tools and procedures including hands-on tutorials where participants can learn how to use the ALMA-OT and/or prepare their own ALMA proposals with technical support from ARC node staff.

Swiss ALMA Community Day (Bern, 03 April 2017)
In Bern, the Community Day starts with an introduction to the basic radio astronomical concepts and terminology, followed by practical information on ALMA, its capabilities and procedures. In the afternoon, two hands-on tutorials provide an introduction to the ALMA-OT and an opportunity to discuss proposal drafts with the experts from the German ARC node.

Registration to both events will open in early March. If you would like to receive updates on these events and other ALMA-related news, please register for our newsletter.

Training opportunity: "Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science"

The course Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science is organized by the German ARC node and offers a hands-on overview of major aspects of radio/mm/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 an overview of various fields of research and the special observing modes that they require, given by experts of the respective fields. The latest developments of selected world-leading radio/mm/submm interferometers will be presented as well.

The course also comprises a hands-on tutorial, where participants learn how to reduce interferometric data with the Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) package.

The German ARC node offers remote access to the lectures and tutorials on a best-efforts basis (maximum 5 remote locations). If you would like to follow the course from a remote location, please contact us before 01 April at arc[at]

Additional information for Cycle 5 proposals

On 01 February 2017, additional information regarding Cycle 5 proposals has been released on the ALMA Science Portal. The news item includes information on the following issues:
- Update on the availability of Band 5
- Reclassification of 16 km baselines as a standard mode
- Cycle 5 configuration schedule
- Information for preparing Large Programs
Complete details will be provided in the Call for Proposals, which will be released on the ALMA Science Portal on 21 March 2017.

Solar SV data now available

New Science Verification data are now available from the Science Verification web page.

This data release contains observations of the Sun obtained during the Solar commissioning campaigns in 2014 and 2015, including mosaics and single pointing observations in Band 3 and 6 with the 12m, 7m and total power arrays. A CASA Guide tutorial is available that describes the basic reduction steps for Solar observations.

3mm VLBI in ALMA Cycle 5

It is expected that phased ALMA will participate in some 3mm VLBI (GMVA) observations during ALMA Cycle 5 (Oct 1 2017 - Sept 30 2018). ALMA will not be in a configuration suitable for VLBI during GMVA Session II 2017. GMVA session dates during Cycle 5 are not yet fixed, but Session I in 2018, which is likely to be in March or April, should provide an opportunity for GMVA + ALMA observing. GMVA Session II in Fall 2018 may also overlap with ALMA Cycle 5 in a configuration suitable for VLBI.

Any 3mm VLBI proposal requesting phased ALMA during Cycle 5 must be submitted via the NRAO PST at the February 1, 2017 deadline!

For details on the expected capabilities and limitations in Cycle 5 and on the resubmission of ALMA Cycle 4 proposals, please see the 3mm VLBI announcement at the Science Portal. If you have any questions regarding this observing opportunity or mm-VLBI in general, please do not hesitate to contact us at arc[at] or via the helpdesk.

ALMA Cycle 5 Pre-announcement

The next ALMA cycle of observing (Cycle 5) will start in October 2017 and and span 12 months. A Call for Proposals will be issued in March 2017, with a deadline for proposal submission in April 2017. A pre-announcement has been released on the ESO Science Portal on 16 December 2016 including useful information for proposal planning.

The anticipated capabilities in Cycle 5:
- at least 43 antennas in the 12-m Array, as well as at least 10 7-m antennas and 3 12-m antennas in the ACA.
- receiver bands 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10
- maximum baselines will vary from 0.15 km to 16 km for bands 3, 4, 5, and 6
- NEW: band 4 polarization
- NEW: band 5 observations

Key dates for Cycle 5:
- 21 March 2017 Release of the ALMA Cycle 5 Call for Proposals and Observing Tool, and opening of archive for proposal submission
- 20 April 2017 Proposal deadline
- End of July 2017 Result of the proposal review sent to Proposers
- 15 September 2017 Submission of Phase 2 by Proposers
- October 2017 Start of ALMA Cycle 5 observations
- September 2018 End of Cycle 5 observations

Please see the corresponding news item for more details.

ALMA Cycle 1 and 2 Summary Report

A detailed report on ALMA Cycles 1 and 2 is now available. The report details observing and completion statistics, data reduction and delivery, and publication statistics. The report can be downloaded as a pdf document here.

A new installment of Science Verification data released

A new installment of Science Verification data is now available. The latest release contains data of the following Science Verification targets:

- Arp 220 spectral line observations in Band 5 (H2O, CS, HNC) with the 12-m Array
- SgrB2(N) spectral scan observations across most of the Band 5 tuning range with an hybrid 12m-7m array
- VY CMa spectral line polarization observations of SiO and water lines in Band 5 with the 12m array

The Science Verification data sets are available through the ALMA Science Portal. For more details, please read the full announcement on the Science Portal.

Status of Data Delivery - A Message from the ALMA Director and Management Team

On October 16, the ALMA Director and the Operations Managers released the following memo regarding data delivery to PIs:

The fundamental product of the ALMA Observatory is, and will remain, calibrated data and images. At the same time, the Observatory has been steadily increasing its performance in terms of efficiency, stability and time available for PI-driven science and, as a result, a steady increase in data production. We, at ALMA, aspire to maintain the quality of the delivered data. Recently, the rate of data acquisition has exceeded our delivery capacity. In the short-term, this will imply some extended data delivery timescales as the Observatory refines processes and increases capacity to meet this increasing data load.

Today, the current delivery time has a median value of 9.5 weeks with most (~80%) datasets delivered in 16.7 weeks or less. There is a tail to the distribution that results in some datasets being delivered in many months. The management team of ALMA understands that this is a source of frustration in the community and has committed to improving the data delivery rates. Over the past few months, the Operations Management and Science Operations Teams have reviewed overall data workflow processes and have identified a number of priorities for improvement that will speed data reduction and delivery. These include staff augmentations in key data areas, workflow rearrangements, prioritization of pipeline development tasks, and an optimization of the online as well as the offline system.

We ask for your patience during this period and that you be re-assured that we give this problem the highest priority.

CASA 4.7.0 has been released

Update: CASA 4.7.0-1 is now available which includes a fix to exportfits.

A new version of CASA, version 4.7.0. has been released. This latest release 4.7.0 is available on Linux with Red Hat and Mac OSX with El Capitan and Yosemite operating systems. CASA may also work on other flavors of Linux. The list above covers those operating systems that on which regular test are done.

More details can be obtained from the CASA Web site.

Impressions from the ALMA Postdoc Symposium

Following the main ALMA conference Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed held in Palm Springs (California) from 20 to 23 September 2016, the 2nd ALMA Postdoc Symposium took place during the weekend of 24/25 September. More than 15 postdocs working for the different ALMA Regional Centres gathered together to share their scientific research and knowledge about the different activities related to ALMA. This time, a number of postdocs not directly associated with the ALMA Regional Centres but working with ALMA data were invited to participate and join the discussions.

This symposium is the continuation of the successful 1st ALMA Postdoc Symposium held in Tokyo in December 2014, and is intended to offer the ALMA postdocs a unique networking opportunity to establish and develop collaborations with other postdocs. This time, the scientific talks were complemented with a series of more technical discussions and panels where the different members of the ARCS presented the various support roles they are involved in.

All the participants are thankful to other more senior members that decided to join the symposium, sharing their knowledge during the discussions. In particular, we enjoyed a nice talk about the history of millimeter/submillimeter astronomy given by the ALMA Observatory Scientist John Carpenter.

For more details on the program visit the ALMA Postdoc Symposium page.

Hope to see all you again in the next ALMA Postdoc Symposium!

Alvaro Sanchez-Monge
Email: asanchez[at]

ALMA conference Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed

Over 200 astronomers from all around the world have gathered in Indian Wells, California, U.S.A. to participate in the Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed conference held between September 20 and 23 and organized by ALMA and its partners: NRAO, NAOJ and ESO. This is the third international conference presenting ALMA's results since the Observatory began its astronomical observation cycles. For more information, please go to the conference website.

Detailed Report of the Cycle 4 Proposal Review

A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Cycle 4 Proposal Review Process is now available. The report includes details on the proposal review process, proposal statistics and regional distributions, as well as the proposal distribution across science categories and receiver bands.

The report can be downloaded as a pdf document here.

A list of highest priority projects of Cycle 4 (and the previous Cycles) can be found here.

Update of ALMA Configuration Schedule for Cycle 4

There will be a modification to the planned configuration schedule for Cycle 4. The Cycle will not start with configuration C40-7 as indicated in the Cycle 4 Proposer's Guide. Instead, Cycle 4 observations will begin in configuration C40-6. This change was made to optimize the completion of the high ranked projects from the Cycle 4 review process. The order of the remaining configurations in Cycle 4 as listed in the Proposer's Guide remains unchanged.

Public release of ALMA Observations of the Galactic Center

ALMA observations of the Galactic Center obtained on July 12 and 18, 2016 UT are now available in the ALMA archive. The ALMA data were obtained using Director's Discretionary Time under project code 2015.A.00021.S (Principal Investigator Gunther Witzel) and are being made available to the community with no proprietary period.

The ALMA observations consist of Band 6 spectral line (13CO J=2-1 and H30 alpha) and continuum observations. Data were obtained for about 5 hours on each night. The timing of the observations coincides with a Spitzer and Chandra monitoring campaign of the Galactic Center.

A description of the Spitzer/Chandra monitoring campaign is available here.