Development study on science cases and technical considerations for ALMA focal plane arrays kicks off

Published: 10 Jan 2024
The participants of the kick-off meeting at DTU, Copenhagen

A new development study, led by the Cosmic DAWN Center (DAWN) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU, Cophenhagen), started on 10 January 2024. The study aims to explore the feasibility and scientific impact of using focal plane arrays (FPAs) to improve the mapping speed of ALMA, while maintaining its exquisite spatial resolution.

The science cases will cover a wide range of scientific topics to inform the optimal configuration such an FPA would have at ALMA in terms of parameters such as frequency coverage (bands), number of elements per FPA, or number of antennas. These science cases will be checked with the core technical capabilities of the ALMA antennas (e.g. field of view) to allow ambitious but realistic science cases to be worked out in further detail. Towards the end of the study, an open workshop will be organized (provisionally in 2026) to solicit input from the full scientific community. This study aspires to set the ground and make the first step for a potential development of FPAs as part of future ALMA upgrades in the next decade.

Partners of DAWN/DTU in the study are the University of Oxford, University College London, the Commissariat à l'Énergie atomique et aux énergies Alternatives (CEA), the Université de Strasbourg, the Observatoire de Paris, and the Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Astronomie (NOVA).