European ARC Newsletter
30 Jun 2016
ALMA’s Solitude: This panoramic view of the Chajnantor Plateau taken from near the peak of Cerro Chico

Welcome to the 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 about ALMA or ALMA-related meetings.

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

European ARC Announcements

Postdoctoral Research Position at the ARC node at IRAM

27 Jun 2016:

IRAM invites applications for a postdoctoral research position at the ARC node in Grenoble.  The successful candidate is expected to invest 50% of the time on personal astronomical research and 50% on support activities. The position offers the opportunity for astronomers to work with world-class research facilities and pursue their career in a very dynamic and competitive field of research. IRAM's research program covers a wide range of subjects from ISM chemistry, planetary science, young stellar objects, late stage stellar evolution, to extragalactic research at low and high redshift.

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Conference: "Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed" (20–23 September, 2016)

27 Jun 2016:

The conference will be held in Indian Wells on 20-23 September 2016. It will highlight recent ALMA scientific results at the threshold  of its fifth year of operation and bring together researchers from around the  world to motivate collaborations for ALMA Cycle 5. Science topics will include all fields of astronomy: cosmology and galaxies in the distant Universe, nearby galaxies and the Galactic Center, the interstellar medium and star formation in our Galaxy, astrochemistry, circumstellar disks,  exoplanets, solar system, stellar evolution and the Sun, and more.

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Call for Proposals for the Advanced Study for Upgrades of ALMA

20 Jun 2016:

ESO invites interested Institutes in the ESO Member States to submit a Proposal(s) for the "ADVANCED STUDY FOR UPGRADES OF THE ATACAMA LARGE MILLIMETER/SUBMILLIMETER ARRAY (ALMA)".

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YERAC 2016

05 Jun 2016:

Announcement from the German Node
This year's YERAC will be organized and sponsored by the MPI for Radioastronomy in collaboration with its IMPRS for Astronomy and Astrophysics. As in most years since 1968, early stage radioastronomers (i.e. PhD candidates and postdocs) will meet, discuss and network in a relaxed atmosphere. Each participant is given the opportunity to give an oral talk.

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Preannouncement of CASA User Survey

29 Apr 2016:

We invite CASA users to partake in a User Survey that will be launched in June/July. This survey is meant to better capture the current usage and perception of CASA and to guide future development efforts. In addition, we always encourage the CASA users to contact directly their CUC representatives to provide feedback regarding capabilities, usability, reliability, and performance of the CASA software package.

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ALMA Cycle 4 Call for Proposals - Closed

25 Apr 2016:

The Call for Proposals for ALMA Cycle 4 (October 2016 – September 2017) closed on 21 April 2016. Over 1600 proposals were received, very close to the number of proposals for Cycle 3. Included were also 29 proposals for Large Programmes and 22 proposals for VLBI observations.

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ALMA Programme News

ALMA Developers' Workshop

On 25-27 May 2016, a workshop with representatives from all the ALMA regions was held at the Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. The workshop, chaired by European ALMA Programme Scientist Leonardo Testi as part of the Gothenburg Centre for Advanced Studies (GoCAS) programme, was called to discuss ALMA Development in general and, more specifically, the call for EU development studies in the context of the ALMA 2030 development vision. Topics ranging from ongoing work in each ALMA region, hardware development (e.g. receivers, backend electronics, wideband correlators, and digitisers), software developments (e.g. improvements to the archive, array monitor, the ALMA Observing Tool (OT), and data reduction and analysis, as well as VLBI capabilities and fringe fitting), and complementary facilities and potential future ALMA capabilities were discussed in great detail, leading to a productive three day workshop

The 2016 ALMA Developers’ Workshop programme is available online at Information about the EU call for studies has been disseminated to the EU ARC node representatives. For more information, please contact Leonardo Testi ( or your ARC node representative. 

Workshop on ALMA Band 2/2+3

In the two days prior to the ALMA Developers Workshop (i.e. on 23 and 24 May), a group representing each of the ALMA regions met to discuss plans and designs for ALMA Band 2 (67-90 GHz) as well as a combined Band 2+3 receiver (67-116 GHz). With the recent approval of Band 1 (31-45 GHz), Band 2 will be the last of the originally specified ALMA bands to be built. Advances in technology over the past 15 years have the enabled exciting possibility of a combined Band 2+3 receiver which would anticipate wideband ALMA upgrades.

The programme from the ALMA Band 2/2+3 Workshop as well as the talks are available at

Advanced Study for ALMA Upgrades – Call for Proposals

In 2010 and 2013 ESO has issued two calls for development studies for upgrades of ALMA. In May the third Call for Proposal(s) has been issued. For more information, please contact Leonardo Testi ( or your ARC node representative.

Band 1

After passing the CDR (Critical Design Review) for ALMA Band 1, held on 19 and 20 January 2016 in Taipei (Taiwan), the ALMA Board gave the green light to the East Asian Executive to build Band 1 for the whole array. Starting this year, ASIAA will produce the Band 1 receivers for all ALMA antennas. Completion of the project, including integration into antennas, is anticipated for 2019/20.

Band 5

The ESO project Band 5 full production and integration at OSF is progressing well. Receiver cartridge construction is ongoing at GARD (Sweden) and NOVA (Netherlands), and the integration into cryostats and antennas is carried out in Chile, with a staff in-kind contributions from NAOJ. By the end of May, a total of 20 Band 5 receivers have been delivered to Chile of which 17 were installed on ALMA antennas and passed the engineering verification. The on-sky Science Verification of Band 5 has been approved by the ASAC, and observations should be performed in the coming months upon receiving the green light from JAO management. It is anticipated that Band 5 can be offered for science in Cycle 5.

ALMA Residence

The construction of the ALMA Residence at the OSF has been progressing well is moving towards completion. In May, the buildings were connected to electricity (see figure), and handover of the central and the six dormitory buildings should be complete by end of August/beginning of September. After that, the outfitting of the kitchen, the dining and community rooms as well as the dormitories with furniture, IT infrastructure etc. can begin. This will take a few months to complete.

ALMA Residence – a dormitory building in January (left) and June (right).

Natural Gas Pipeline for ALMA

ESO, on behalf of the ALMA partnership, is pursuing the construction of a natural gas pipeline from San Pedro de Atacama to the power generators at the OSF. Currently, the fuel for the ALMA power generators is brought to the OSF by trucks. A pipeline is a safer means of fuel transportation, and natural gas is a relatively clean and cost effective fuel for power generation.

Before being allowed and able to build the 24 km of pipeline, the detailed engineering and an Environmental Impact Study according to Chilean regulations need to be carried out. On 20 May, a major milestone has been achieved when the EIA (Estudio de Impacto Ambiental = Environmental Impact Study) – after a significant period of preparation, including field measurements and community meetings – was submitted to the Chilean authority SEA (Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental). After the formal check, the SEA admitted it on 28 May to the evaluation process that started on that day.

Upcoming ALMA or ALMA-related Meetings

  • Discs in Galaxies
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 11 – 15 July 2016

    The aim of this conference is to explore the importance of stellar and gaseous discs in a variety of galaxies from high redshift to the Milky Way within the context of new observations and numerical simulations. Stellar and gaseous discs represent the most important structural component in normal galaxies and interpreting their early formation and destruction, via observations and numerical simulations, indicates the key processes that shape the eventual Hubble sequence.
    This conference is timely given the current investment in high resolution instrumentation, which probes the resolved properties of distant galaxies, and the increased detail in our understanding of stars and gas in nearby galaxies and the Milky Way. It will provide a wide ranging exploration of discs in galaxies from observational and theoretical aspects. More details on the webpage.

  • Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed
    Indian Wells,  USA, 20 –23 September 2016

    This international four-day conference will highlight ALMA results at the threshold of the array's fifth year of science operations and bring together researchers from around the world to motivate collaborations for ALMA Cycle 5. Science topics will include all fields of astronomy, from cosmology and galaxies in the distant Universe, nearby galaxies and the Galactic Center, interstellar medium and star formation in our Galaxy, astrochemistry, circumstellar disks, exoplanets, solar system, stellar evolution, and the Sun.

  • Young European Radioastronomers Conference (YERAC) 2016
    Bonn, Germany, 5 - 9 September 2016

    The Young European Radio Astronomers Conference (YERAC) has been held annually in different radioastronomical centers in Europe since 1968 and has enabled many graduate students and young post-docs doing radio astronomical research to meet and present their current work. For a history of YERAC, see

  • The 9th IRAM millimeter interferometry
    IRAM headquarters, Grenoble, France, 10 - 14 October 2016

    The 9th IRAM millimeter interferometry school will be held October 10th-14th 2016 at the IRAM headquarters (Grenoble, France). It is intended for students, post-docs and scientists who want to acquire a good knowledge of interferometry and data reduction techniques at millimeter wavelengths, with a special emphasis on the NOEMA interferometer.