Science Announcements

Volunteers Needed to Test a Distributed Peer Review System at ESO

Published: 29 Aug 2018

Distributed peer review is an increasingly popular method used for science evaluations. By distributing the review load among many peers (as opposed to burdening a single panel or committee) reviewers have a lower workload (i.e. more time to spend per proposal) while investing significantly less time overall, hence allowing more opinions per proposal and a faster proposal evaluation process. ESO is now aiming to add "distributed peer review" as a new method for the future evaluation of proposals in certain categories, while retaining the Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) to oversee the whole process.  

Changed Format for ESO proposals: Principal Investigator Information Removed During Peer Review

Published: 29 Aug 2018

In an effort to mitigate the effects of unconscious bias inherent in any evaluation process, in Period 103, the email address, affiliation and country of the Principal Investigator (PI) of each proposal will no longer be available to the reviewers in the Observing Programmes Committee. In addition, the names of the PI and co-investigators will be listed alphabetically on the last page of the proposal, in such a way that the identity of the PI is unknown. These changes to every proposal are made immediately after submission when the proposal reaches the ESO system, and are already in effect for Director's Discretionary Time proposals.

Call for ESO Public Spectroscopic Surveys with ARO Telescopes - New Backend Available

Published: 24 Aug 2018

The Arizona Radio Observatory has announced the successful commissioning of the new ARO Wideband Spectrometer (AROWS) spectrometer on the 12-metre ALMA Prototype antenna. AROWS covers two 4-GHz wide intermediate frequencies, and is planned to be upgraded to cover four 4 GHz wide intermediate frequencies. It is used with the sideband-separating receiver covering 82.5 to 116 GHz, and replaces the old MAC and filterbanks.

The deadline for ESO Public Spectroscopic Surveys with ARO is 27 September 2018 at 12:00 CEST, as announced in July. Full details are available via the web page of the call for public survey proposals.

ALMA Cycle 6 Programmes & Phase 2 Deadline

Published: 23 Aug 2018


A record number of 1836 proposals were submitted in response to the ALMA Cycle 6 Call for Proposals. The proposals were reviewed during a meeting in Tokyo from 18-23 June 2018. The review committee consisted of 146 Science Assessors grouped into 18 ALMA Review Panels (ARP) covering five scientific categories. The global oversubscription rate for Cycle 6 was 4.9, for European PIs it was 6.2. Of the submitted proposals, 100 received the highest priority of Grade A, 269 received Grade B, and 292 received Grade C. In addition, four new Large Programmes were selected for Cycle 6. The list of all Grade A and B proposals can be found on the ALMA science portal. A detailed report of the Cycle 6 review process is also available. Cycle 6 programmes will be scheduled for observation from 1 October 2018 until 30 September 30 2019.

We remind all Principal Investigators of approved Cycle 6 projects to submit their Phase 2 Science Goals by September 6, 2018 at 1500 UT. The corresponding scheduling blocks (SBs) will be generated by the observatory shortly after the Phase 2 submission deadline.


Welcoming the European ALMA Programme Scientist: Francisca Kemper

Published: 22 Aug 2018

ESO is very pleased to introduce Francisca Kemper as the next European ALMA Programme Scientist. Ciska will join ESO on 1 November 2018, and will act as the primary contact between the ALMA Observatory, the ESO ALMA Support Centre and the European astronomical community with respect to the scientific capabilities, mission and exploitation of the ALMA facility.

ALMA Band 5 Enables the Discovery of Radioactive Molecules

Published: 20 Aug 2018

Earlier this year, ALMA saw its receiver complement extended with the installation of the last Band 5 receivers. These receivers were built by a European consortium consisting of the Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Astronomie (NOVA) and the Group for Advanced Receiver Development (GARD). The first science results with this brand new receiver are already starting to appear. One exciting result is the detection of a radioactive molecule in CK Vulpeculae, which heavily relied on ALMA Band 5, as well as the discovery with the prototype Band 5 receiver at APEX.

SEPIA Reinstalled at APEX with an Upgraded Band 9 Receiver

Published: 19 Aug 2018

The Swedish-ESO PI Instrument (SEPIA) was successfully reinstalled at APEX last August. The instrument contains a dual polarization sideband-separating ALMA band 5 receiver (covering 159 to 211 GHz), and a new dual-polarization sideband-separating Band 9 receiver, replacing the previous double sideband receiver. This new facility receiver has an excellent sideband rejection ratio exceeding 15 dB at all frequencies, which is particularly important in Band 9 where there are many atmospheric absorption lines. In addition, the new receiver covers an extended tuning range from 578 to 738 GHz, adding 24 GHz on the lower edge and 18 GHz on the upper edge. Both receivers are offered in ESO Period 103 (see the Call for Proposals).

ESO Public Spectroscopic Surveys with ARO telescopes: Final Call for Proposals

Published: 06 Jul 2018

ESO has issued the final call for proposals to conduct Public Spectroscopic Surveys using the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) telescopes as part of an agreement with the University of Arizona. The deadline for submitting Public Survey proposals for ESO ARO time is 27 September 2018. Up to 2000 hours of observing time will be available in this call. Detailed information on the Public Spectroscopic Surveys with the ARO telescopes is available here, together with a LaTeX template for proposal submission. Note the availability of the new ARO Wideband Spectrometer (AROWS) at the 12-metre AEM antenna, allowing two 4 GHz wide intermediate frequencies (IFs) to be recorded.  The final list of available backends is now available.

Period 102 Telescope Allocation

Published: 04 Jul 2018

The 102nd Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) met on 22-24 May 2018. A total of 1174 (8-hour equivalent) nights of Visitor Mode and Service Mode observations were allocated on the VLT/VLTIVISTAVST, the 3.6-metre and NTT, and APEX telescopes. The submission deadline for Phase 2 Service Mode observations is 2 August 2018; see the separate announcement for further details.

Phase 2 for Observing Period 102

Published: 04 Jul 2018

With the release of the telescope schedule, the preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 102 observations is 2 August 2018.

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