Welcome to ALMA and the European ALMA Regional Centre!

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is the world's largest ground-based facility for observations in the millimeter/submillimeter regime located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile. It enables transformational research into the physics of the cold Universe, probes the first stars and galaxies, and directly images the formation of planets. ALMA comprises a giant array of fifty 12-m antennas, which can be configured to achieve baselines up to 16 km. It is equipped with state-of-the-art receivers that cover all the atmospheric windows up to 1 THz. In addition, a compact array of 7-m and 12-m antennas greatly enhance ALMA's ability to image extended sources.

The European ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) provides the interface between the ALMA project and the European science community. It supports its users mainly in the areas of proposal preparation, observation preparation, data reduction, and data analysis.

Below you can read the latest Announcements from the European ARC Network.. More details and up-to-date information can be found in the News section and the ALMA Science Portal.

ALMA starts the process of recovering the telescope array

Published: 01 Oct 2020

Dear colleagues,

The past several months have been an extraordinary period as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Everyone at ALMA hopes that you and your families are safe and healthy, and we extend our thoughts to those who have been directly affected by the pandemic.

For six months, almost the whole ALMA site has been shut down – power, water treatment, and running water - with only a single piece of key equipment (the hydrogen maser) still powered and checked daily as one of the tasks of the ALMA Caretaker Teams  - the teams who have ensured the safety and security of the ALMA Observatory through the shutdown.   

With the improving pandemic situation in Chile, ALMA is now scheduled to begin the long process of recovering the telescope array in the Atacama on October 1st, 2020, starting with preparation of the ALMA Operations Support Facility (OSF) at 2900 metres for the return of staff and contractors.

The road to recovery of operations, and ultimately science observations – a milestone that will not take place this year - has been carefully planned. It is difficult to predict the exact timeline since several aspects of the plan depend on prevailing conditions not under our control. However, the following describes the current plan of activities and schedule for the return of ALMA to science operations.

ALMA Regional Centre Community Assembly

Published: 01 Oct 2020

The European ALMA Regional Centre invites all European ALMA users to a short virtual community assembly on October 8 at 10:00 CEST. After a long period of suspended science observing, there is now a path towards getting back on sky and collecting science data with ALMA again. At this community meeting, we will update you on the time line for recovery and can answer any questions you may have on your ALMA projects and support from the European ARC network.

Reserve the date: 8 October at 10:00 CEST. The meeting can be accessed at this link. Looking forward to seeing you then!

ALMA is redesigning its user experience - be part of it!

Published: 21 Sep 2020

It has been a while since ALMA antennas have pointed towards the sky. Many of you have used this time to mine the ALMA archive, do great science, think of future projects and contemplate about your past experience with ALMA data and the services, tools and user support offered since Cycle 0.

While the antennas are taking an unanticipated break, ALMA is launching a new global project to Redesign the User eXperience (RedUX). As part of RedUX we will establish focus groups to discuss specific aspects of the ALMA user experience. By volunteering to join a focus group, you can help shape the future of ALMA. If you are interested in contributing to RedUX (and in receiving a small gift at the end of the exercise, as a token of our appreciation for your contribution), please fill in this form. The form is not anonymous, as we need your contact details in order to be able to get in touch with you.

Data delivery of the ALMA Spectroscopic Survey in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (ASPECS)

Published: 20 Sep 2020

The ALMA Spectroscopic Survey in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (ASPECS) is a 3D survey of gas and dust in distant galaxies. It focuses on the best-studied cosmological deep field, the iconic Hubble Ultra Deep Field. Capitalizing on the unparalleled sensitivity of ALMA the ASPECS data unveil reservoirs of molecular gas and dust in galaxies up to redshifts z~4, when the Universe was only 1/8th of today's age. This interstellar medium constitutes the matter out of which stars form, and it is thus a prerequisite of the star formation process, and thus a key driver for galaxy evolution. The ASPECS data - that can be obtained from this page - provide the most sensitive image of the sky at 1.2 mm available to date, disclosing the emission of dust, which is heated up by the star formation.

Comparing B2B and In-Band phase referencing and Calibrator separation angles.

Published: 20 Sep 2020

Based on Extension of Capabilities (EOC) observations made in late 2017, the high-frequency long-baseline (HF-LB) team have recently published work detailing their extensive tests (please see the full article here). The main aim of the work was to compare standard phase referencing, defined as In-Band, with the band-to-band (B2B) technique. The latter technique allows the observatory to calibrate data using a phase calibrator observed at a lower frequency than the target source. The practical reason for B2B is that at higher and higher observing frequencies, quasars, used as phase calibrators become weaker and therefore a sufficiently bright one will often be at a large separation from the science target. This can result in less optimal calibration and imaging, something the team also aimed to clarify. To achieve their aims, the HF-LB team made observations in the In-Band and B2B modes where the modes shared the same close calibrators (within 2 deg of the targets), but also in cases where the In-Band calibrators were chosen to be further away, up to a maximal value of ~11 deg.

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