European ARC Newsletter
21 Dec 2015
The stunning Milky Way above the antennas at the ALMA Observatory.

Welcome to the first European ALMA Regional Centre Newsletter!  

This Newsletter is a compilation of recent European ALMA Regional Centre Announcement items. Follow the links or visit the European ARC Announcements to read more. In addition to these Announcements the Newsletter informs you about various developments in the ALMA Programme, as well as to ALMA or ALMA-related meetings.

Also, you are kindly referred to two recent articles in the ESO Messenger by Hatziminaoglou and Stoehr about the European ALMA Regional Centre Network and the ALMA Cycle 0 Publication Statistics.

Up-to-date information about weather, configuration and and scheduling can be found on the ALMA Status page



European ARC Announcements


German ALMA Community Days 2016

21 Dec 2015:

Announcement from the German Node
To prepare the local astronomical community for Cycle 4, the German ARC node organizes the German ALMA Community Days 2016 at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn on 6-8 April 2016.

Read more


Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science

21 Dec 2015:

Announcement from the German Node
The course "Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science", held in English at the university of Bonn in April-July 2016, offers a hands-on overview of major aspects of radio/mm/submm interferometry for master students, PhD students and senior astronomers. The course also comprises hands-on tutorials, where participants learn how to reduce interferometric data with the widely used astronomical software packages AIPS and CASA.

Read more


MARCUs Fundings ends in 2015

20 Dec 2015:

The end of this year also marks the end of the RadioNet3 (http://www.radionet-eu.org) networking activity MARCUs (Mobility for ARC Users).  MARCUs has supported approximately 40 researchers in visiting one of the European ALMA Regional Centre nodes across Europe, where they received expert face-to-face support from the local staff.

Read more


ALMA Cycle 4 Pre-announcement

15 Dec 2015:

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will start the next cycle of observing (Cycle 4) in October 2016. A Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 4 will be issued in March 2016, with a deadline for proposal submission in April 2016. New opportunities in Cycle 4 include ACA stand-alone mode, Large Programs, millimetre-wavelength VLBI, and solar observations.

Read more


Nordic ARC Software Tools

07 Dec 2015:

Announcement from the Nordic Node
The Nordic ARC node has prepared a suite of software tools for analysis of primarily ALMA but also other interferometric data. Most tools are developed for use with CASA, but are in many cases general and adaptable to other packages.

Read more


ALMA Cycle 4 Events at the Nordic ARC Node

04 Dec 2015:

Announcement from the Nordic Node
In connection with the call for proposals for ALMA Cycle 4 the Nordic ARC node will be arranging workshops to provide direct, hands-on help with proposal preparation. In addition to general ALMA workshops, we will this time arrange science oriented workshops to give more focus on the scientific areas of interest to the Nordic region. All meetings are open to all ALMA users, although preference will be given to participants from the Nordic regions.

Read more


First Cycle 3 data delivered to PIs

19 Nov 2015:

On 11 Nov 2015, the EU ARC delivered the first science data (a ToO observation) of Cycle 3 to PIs.
This came closely after the release of the new CASA version 4.5 on 29 Oct 2015 (see http://casa.nrao.edu) which is needed to process Cycle 3 data.

Read more


ALMA Data Handling Workshop

15 Nov 2015:

Announcement from the Italian Node
The Italian ARC-node organizes a workshop on ALMA data reduction and analysis for the Italian community: 9-12 Feb. 2016, Bologna. 
For details and futher updates please visit the workshop web site: http://www.alma.inaf.it/index.php/ALMA_Data_Handling_Workshop

Read more


Resolving Planet Formation in the Era of ALMA and Extreme AO

14 Nov 2015:

Joint ESO, ALMA, NAOJ, NRAO Workshop:
ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 16–20 May 2016

Results from ALMA Long Baseline observations and from SPHERE, Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) and other high-contrast adaptive optics (AO) instruments have given a taste of what to expect over the next few years in the fields of protoplanetary and debris discs, and planet formation. For the first time observations of the regions where planets form are achievable. The workshop will discuss the state-of-the-art results, offering a panchromatic view, with a balance between observations and theory. Discussions will be scheduled on how facilities, such as JWST, E-ELT and TMT, and advances in modeling, will advance the field of planetary formation.

Read more


Report on ALMA Cycle 3 Proposal Review

07 Oct 2015:

A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Early Science Cycle 3 Proposal Review Process is available. The report details the proposal review process, proposal statistics and regional distributions, the proposal distribution across science categories and receiver bands, as well as the anticipated observing pressure as a function of Local Sidereal Time and configuration. The accepted high priority Cycle 3 projects are listed here.

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ALMA Status Report: August 2015

05 Oct 2015:

The latest ALMA Status Report, available here, includes Cycle 2 Early Science observing progress (including Cycle 1 Transfer projects), project completion and data delivery summary, Extension and Optimization of Capabilities (EOC) activity, and preparations for Cycle 4, since the last Report (November 2014).

Read more


ALMA Cycle 3 User Survey Results

05 Oct 2015:

The fourth ALMA user survey was conducted between the 1 May and 1 June 2015. A total of 536 users (representing 15% of the users who were sent the questionnaire and 44% of the Cycle 3 PIs) responded to the survey. This survey focused on topics related to proposal preparation and submission, including interaction with the ARC / ARC nodes for ALMA proposal preparation and usability of tools such as the ALMA Science Portal or the helpdesk. A summary is available.

Read more



ALMA Programme News

ALMA Band 5

Within the ALMA development programme, ESO is providing an additional receiver band for ALMA: Band 5 (163 - 211 GHz). The cryogenic receiver cartridges are built by a consortium of NOVA, the research school for astronomy in the Netherlands, and Onsala Space Observatory’s Advanced Receiver Development group. NRAO builds the local oscillators that tune the receivers.

Band 5 full production and integration at the OSF proceeds very well - 11 receivers have already been integrated into antennas. In July the first fringes with the Band 5 production cartridges have been achieved (see ESO announcement http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann15059/). On 31 July, using three antennas equipped with Band 5, successful phase closure has been demonstrated on sky. Receiver production, integration and commissioning work will continue into 2017, and it is well possible that Band 5 may be offered for proposals in Cycle 5.

One of the refurbished ALMA Band 5 prototype receivers has been installed on APEX in the SEPIA instrument. SEPIA is currently running the first season of regular observations and many Science Verification projects data are available on the ESO webpages.

New ALMA modes for Cycle 4: mmVLBI, Solar and ACA standalone and Large Programmes

Following the successful ALMA Phasing Project and the coordination of the mmVLBI network providers, from Cycle 4 it will be possible to apply for the use of ALMA as a station of a VLBI network. Following the outcome of an ALMA Upgrade Study led by MPIfR in Europe, ALMA will be offered as a station of the GMVA operating in the 3mm band. Details on how to apply for ALMA as a mmVLBI station will be available on the ALMA Science Portal by mid-January. In Cycle 4 ALMA will also provide access to some of the Solar Observing modes, following extensive commissioning campaigns, also supported by an ALMA Development Study led by the Ondrejov ARC node. Interferometric and single dish observations of the Sun will be offered at selected frequencies in Bands 3 and 6. ACA standalone observations and Large Programmes will also be offered in Cycle 4. More information on these are available in the Cycle 4 pre-announcement: https://almascience.eso.org/news/alma-cycle-4-pre-announcement

Development Studies

As part of the ALMA development programme, several upgrade studies are running in Europe. These range from the development of new receiver bands, upgrade of existing hardware and software systems. mmVLBI operations and Solar Observing use cases and algorithms are two examples that allowed to deliver two new observing modes for ALMA. Others will be described in future issues of this Newsletter.

ALMA Residence


Fig. 1: Architectural concept

Fig. 2: First dormitory buildings

The construction of the ALMA Residence, ESO's last construction programme item to be delivered to ALMA, started in February 2015 and is progressing very well. The architectural concept (Fig. 1) defines six dormitory buildings, with 20 rooms each, and a central building with the restaurant and community and leisure facilities. By now the first dormitory buildings have been erected (Fig. 2) and the building is on track for delivery in the second half of 2016. The construction can be followed in real time via two web cams - the images are available at http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/alma/residencia/.

Staff News

Effective 1 July 2015, the ARC department at ESO has moved from the DMO to the EASC division in order to consolidate the ESO-ALMA off-site operations. This move was a purely ESO internal re-organization.

John Carpenter has taken up the position of Observatory Scientist at the JAO in September.


Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

Resolving Planet Formation in the Era of ALMA and Extreme AO
Joint ESO, ALMA, NAOJ, NRAO Workshop: ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 16–20 May 2016

Results from ALMA Long Baseline observations and from SPHERE, Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) and other high-contrast adaptive optics (AO) instruments have given a taste of what to expect over the next few years in the fields of protoplanetary and debris disks, and planet formation. For the first time observations of the regions where planets form are achievable. The workshop will discuss the state-of-the-art results, offering a panchromatic view, with a balance between observations and theory. Discussions will be scheduled on how facilities, such as JWST, E-ELT and TMT, and advances in modeling, will advance the field of planetary formation.

Details are available from the workshop webpage and further information may be obtained by email.

Workshops at the Nordic ARC Node to prepare for the  Call for Proposals for ALMA Cycle 4

In connection with the call for proposals for ALMA Cycle 4 the Nordic ARC node will be arranging workshops to provide direct, hands-on help with proposal preparation. In addition to general ALMA workshops, we will this time arrange science oriented workshops to give more focus on the scientific areas of interest to the Nordic region. All meetings are open to all ALMA users, although preference will be given to participants from the Nordic regions.

More detailed information on the workshops is available in the EU ARC Announcement and will appear on our homepage www.nordic-alma.se in early 2016.