German ALMA Regional Center (ARC) Node

The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a revolutionary interferometer for mm and submm astronomy in the Atacama desert in Northern Chile. It is operated by a global collaboration between Europe (ESO), North America (NRAO) and East Asia (NAOJ), in cooperation with Chile. The interface between ALMA and the user communities is provided by three ALMA Regional Centres (ARCs) in Europe, North America and East Asia.

The European ARC (EU ARC) is organized as a coordinated network with a central node at ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München and regional nodes located in Bologna(I), Bonn/Cologne(D), Grenoble(F), Leiden(NL), Manchester(GB), Ondrejov(CZ), and Onsala(S). The concept and the implementation of the EU ARC network has been described in an article in the ESO Messenger (Hatziminaoglou et al. 2015, Msngr. 162, 24).

The German ARC node is a collaboration of the universities of Bonn and Cologne. Its headquarters are located at the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn. The German ARC node provides services to ALMA operations, the local astronomical community and the general public:

Newsletters and Announcements


Recent News

BREAKING NEWS [24 April 2020]: Update on ALMA Cycles 7 and 8

On behalf of the ALMA Director, with support from all Executives and the ALMA Board, the recent decisions taken regarding the status of Cycle 7 and Cycle 8 are as follows:

  • The start of ALMA Cycle 8 has been postponed until 2021 October. It is anticipated that the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again in 2021 March.
  • ALMA Cycle 7 will continue through 2021 September, with currently non-completed projects ranked A, B and C remaining in the observing queue.

  • There remain many questions outstanding regarding resuming observations and accepting future proposals during these uncertain times. ALMA is working on these questions and will provide a next update to the community in the coming weeks.

    The Regional ARCs continue to provide support to their communities. Please contact the ALMA Helpdesk if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

    [Update on 17 April 2020]: ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals Suspended due to COVID-19

    The COVID-19 crisis has continued to affect the global community, including ALMA users and staff. ALMA operations remain suspended, as announced on March 20. Under these difficult and unprecedented circumstances, the ALMA Director, with support from all Executives, has decided to suspend the submission of Cycle 8 proposals until further notice. The Cycle 8 proposal submission server will be closed as of 15:00UT on Friday, 17 April, 2020.

    We appreciate the community has worked hard on new science ideas for Cycle 8, even under such difficult conditions. We also realize the work the community has done in generating an exciting Cycle 7 observing program. At this time, our first priority is the health and well-being of the global community.

    New timelines for Cycle 7 and Cycle 8 will be announced on the Science Portal in the coming weeks as the global situation evolves.

    These times offer unprecedented stress and challenges for our community members and their families. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the current situation. The Regional ARCs continue to provide support to their communities. Please contact the ALMA Helpdesk if you have any questions or concerns.

    ALMA and the German ARC node during the COVID-19 pandemic [last update: 15 April 2020]

    In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the German ARC node as well as the hosting universities of Bonn and Cologne have taken measures towards the well-being of their staff and against the spread of the corona virus. While the crucial infrastructure is kept running with minimum staff on site, most of the staff now work in home office.

    By means of remote computing, emails and video-conferencing, the staff of the German ARC node continues to provide all services of the ARC node including user support and training on a best effort basis. While schools, daycare and vacation programmes are closed, the parents among our staff face particular challenges. Hence we ask for your understanding if you experience delays in our response.


    Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ALMA Director has made the decision to suspend science operations with ALMA and to shut down the observatory in a controlled way. The last science observations have been completed on Thursday, 19 March 2020. A reduced staff will remain at the Operation Support Facility (OSF) to maintain the safety of the ALMA equipment and infrastructure. All other staff will be working remotely for the immediate future. The plan is to continue providing data processing, data archive services, and ARC support, including the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals while external conditions allow it. An announcement will be posted on the science portal when observations are resumed.

    All MOUSs that have been delivered to principle investigators (PIs), but have not become public by 19 March 2020, will be granted an extension of their proprietary time by three months. The full details of this new policy can be found here.

    ALMA is carefully monitoring the global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide additional updates to the community as needed. The next update to the community will be provided NO LATER than 21 April, 2020 on the status of the Call for Proposals and the support for the scientific community at the ARCs.

    Please visit the ALMA Science Portal for any possible updates.

    Proposal Preparation Support

    As a service to the local astronomical community, the German ARC node offers a series of ALMA proposal preparation tutorials. The video tutorials can be watched at any convenient time and cater to astronomers with different levels of expertise, from introductory videos for scientists new to ALMA to a concise update for experienced ALMA users.

    Prospective ALMA users are very welcome to follow up the tutorials with a visit to our online proposal clinic using zoom. No prior registration necessary! During the office hours of the proposal clinic, experienced staff of the German ARC node are happy to discuss questions and to give technical advice regarding ALMA proposal preparation. Zoom offers screen sharing capabilites for all users allowing optimum interaction over large distances. If you would like to talk to an ALMA expert, but can not join the zoom session during the scheduled office hours, please contact us at arc(at)astro.uni-bonn.de to arrange a zoom session at a suitable date.

    ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals open

    The ALMA Director, on behalf of the Joint ALMA Observatory and the partner organizations in East Asia, Europe, and North America, is pleased to announce that the ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals for scientific observations is now open! For Cycle 8 the JAO anticipates having 4300 hours of approved science time on the 12-m Array and 3000 hours on the Atacama Compact Array (ACA), also known as the Morita Array.

    New capabilities in Cycle 8 include
    - spectral scans with the 7-m Array
    - stand-alone -m Array observations in bands 9 and 10
    - solar observations in Band 5, available in configurations C-1, C-2, and C-3
    - mosaics for continuum linear polarization observations in Bands 3-7 with the 12-m Array
    - VLBI observations for faint science targets using passive phasing
    - the observations of pulsars using the ALMA phased array (Band 3 only)

    Please see the Call for Proposals for further information.

    Please note that a dual-anonymous review process will be implemented for ALMA proposals starting with the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals. In this scheme, the reviewers do not know the identity of the proposal team. The investigators are responsible for writing their proposals such that anonymity is preserved. Detailed guidelines on how to prepare such proposals, including the consequences of non-compliance, can be found here.

    ALMA Cycle 8 is currently scheduled for observations from October 2020 to September 2021. Users of any nationality or affiliation are invited to submit proposals before the deadline. As the novel corona virus COVID-19 continues to impact the global community, the ALMA Director and the regional partners have decided to delay the proposal deadline for the ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals to NO EARLIER than 1500 UT on 19 May, 2020.

    The Regional ARCs and ARC nodes have adjusted working conditions to support the Cycle 8 Call and, as of now, can provide support to their communities. Please contact your local node or the ALMA Helpdesk with any questions or concerns regarding the ALMA Cycle 8 Call or any other issues.

    Training Opportunity: Hands-on Radio Interferometry

    The Master-level course Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science offers hands-on training in the data reduction and analysis of radio interferometric data for Master students, PhD students and more senior astronomers. After a brief review of the basic concepts of radio interferometry, the participants are guided through the various steps necessary to create fully calibrated data cubes from interferometric raw data. In the second part of the course, the participants learn how to construct images and data cubes from the calibrated data and how to analyze their interferometric data.

    As in previous years, we plan to offer remote access to the course using the video conferencing system zoom, which the participants can join without charge and on a variety of platforms. If you would like to follow the course remotely, please contact us by Friday, 03 April 2020.

    For more information, please see the course homepage and/or contact us.

    Release of Full Polarization ALMA Test Data in July 2020

    ALMA will be releasing data on 3C 279 and Ori-KL acquired as part of the Extension and Optimization of Capabilities effort (EOC). The data were used to test, implement, and determine the accuracy of the linear-polarization mosaicking observing mode of ALMA.

    The raw data, along with the calibrated measurement sets, reference images, and reduction scripts will be released in early July 2020. The data will be available through the ALMA science archive. More information can be found here.

    Additional Information for ALMA Cycle 8 Proposals

    As already announced in the ALMA Cycle 8 Pre-announcement, a dual-anonymous review process will be implemented for ALMA proposals starting with the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals. In this scheme, the reviewers do not know the identity of the proposal team. The investigators are responsible for writing their proposals such that anonymity is preserved. Detailed guidelines on how to prepare such proposals, including the consequences of non-compliance, can be found here.

    In Cycle 8, the 12-m array is foreseen to operate in various configurations with a maximum baseline from 0.16 km to 8.5 km. The anticipated configuration schedule including the representative configuration numbers is listed in the ALMA Cycle 8 Pre-announcement. For the simulation of observations with the 12-m array and the ACA, the current standard configuration files should be used.

    In addition to the observing modes listed in the Cycle 8 pre-announcement (see below), the opportunity to observe pulsars using the ALMA phased array is now confirmed. The observations will be offered at Band 3 only and they will take place in campaign mode during pre-defined time periods. More details will be provided in the Cycle 8 documentation released at the time of the Call for Proposals in March.

    ALMA Cycle 8 Pre-announcement

    The next cycle of ALMA observations (Cycle 8) will start in October 2020 and span 12 months. It is anticipated that 4300 hours of 12-m Array time will be available for observations of approved projects, and 3000 hours will be available on the Atacama Compact Array (ACA), also known as the Morita Array. New features in Cycle 8 include among others high-frequency observations with the stand-alone 7-m Array, mosaicking of continuum linear polarization observations, and relaxed restrictions on the science target flux for VLBI observations.

    The Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 8 capabilities will be issued in March 2020, with a deadline for proposal submission in April 2020. A pre-announcement to the Cycle 8 Call including a timeline and highlighting various aspects necessary to plan proposals is already available here.

    VLBI projects are carried out in collaboration with the Global mm-VLBI Array (GMVA) or the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Please note that 3mm VLBI programs must also submit a proposal to the GMVA by its 03 February 2020 deadline. Additional information about proposing with ALMA using the GMVA is available in the GMVA Call for Proposals and at our dedicated webpage Guidelines for mmVLBI with ALMA in Cycle 8.

    ALMA at the EAS 2020

    The Special Session No. 13 (SS13) Eight years of ALMA ground-breaking results: A joint venture between the ALMA user community and the ALMA Regional Centres is organised as part of the yearly meeting of the European Astronomical Society. The conference will take place in Leiden, The Netherlands, on June 29 - July 3, 2020. SS13 will be held on the last day of the conference (July 3rd).

    SS13 will focus on scientific results that emphasise the connection between the ALMA users and the EU ARC network, and include: Scientific highlights from large programs. - Scientific results from special modes with EU-specific strengths: high frequencies, polarization, solar observations, deep fields, data combination. - Results based on archival research and data mining. - Community and EU ARC network software/tools development. - Optimization of observations setup and data calibration. - Computing facilities for data reduction and analysis.

    Abstract submission for SS13 is open for oral and/or poster presentations. In order to submit your abstract, please visit the abstract portal.

    Requesting calibrated data in Europe

    By popular demand, the EU ARC has implemented a service which permits ALMA users to request the calibrated data for a given dataset (Member Obs Unit Set, MOUS) to be made available for download. The service is open both for ALMA PIs or Delegees with proprietary ALMA data and for archival users wanting to use datasets for which the proprietary time has expired. For a description how to request calibrated data, please go here.

    Highlights der Physik in Bonn

    The 19th edition of the science festival Highlights der Physik took place in Bonn on 16-21 September 2019. This year's theme was Show yourself! Making the invisible visible. The core of the science festival was a hands-on exhibition on the Münsterplatz with approximately 50 exhibits on physics and astronomy. Scientists from Bonn and other parts of Germany were available for questions, explanations and discussions. There were also science shows, live experiments, the EinsteinSlam, a junior laboratory, workshops, a school competition, numerous lectures and lots of science to touch and try out.

    Throughout the festival, the German ARC node welcomed visitors at their exhibition stand, which focussed on ALMA and the principle of radio interferometry. An interactive model of ALMA allowed the public and interested colleagues alike to define a configuration, conduct their own interferometric observations and view the resulting images in real time.

    Detailed report on ALMA Cycle 7 Proposal Review

    A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Cycle 7 Proposal Review Process is now available as a pdf document. A list of the highest priority projects in Cycle 7 can be found here.