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

ALMA during the COVID-19 pandemic

[last update: 08 September 2020]

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, science operations with ALMA were suspended and the observatory was shut down in a controlled way on 19/20 March 2020. Since then, caretaker teams maintain the safety of the ALMA equipment and infrastructure at the Operation Support Facility (OSF). Detailed plans for the safe return to operations have been developed. The situation in Chile, both in the Santiago area and near the ALMA site, is carefully monitored and regular reviews are held to consider starting the re-opening process of the Observatory. As the situation has not yet improved in the northern area where the ALMA telescope is located, ALMA operations remain suspended and the timeline of resuming observations unfortunately remains uncertain.

In July, Northern Chile was hit by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake. Fortunately this caused no injuries to ALMA staff and no serious damage at the ALMA site. Later that month, the ALMA site experienced extremely high winds, that led to some minor damage at the OSF.

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


The Cycle 8 Call for Proposals has been suspended and the Cycle 8 proposal submission server has been closed as of 15:00UT on Friday, 17 April, 2020. It is anticipated that the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again in 2021 March with the start of ALMA Cycle 8 in 2021 October. ALMA Cycle 7 will continue through 2021 September, with currently non-completed projects ranked A, B and C remaining in the observing queue.

The ALMA proposal preparation support tools produced by the German ARC node in response to the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals continue to be available to the community. When the Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will open again, these tools will be updated as necessary. In addition, the German node will offer again a drop-in proposal clinic via zoom, in which experienced staff of the German ARC node are happy to discuss questions and to give technical advice regarding ALMA proposal preparation on a case-by-case basis.

Operations at the German ARC node under COVID-19-induced restrictions

[last update: 08 September 2020]

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the German ARC node and 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 continue to 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 meeting in person is still difficult, ALMA users are very welcome to contact the staff via email or via the helpdesk. Consultation and practical help via video conference systems can be arranged on short notice.

Regular updates on the status of ALMA and the German ARC node will be posted on this webpage and at the ALMA Science Portal.

Successful Hands-on Training: Mastering Radio Interferometry via ZOOM

Throughout the lock-down in Germany (April - July 2020), the German ARC node offered the hands-on training course Radio Interferometry: Methods and Science in the form of an interactive course via zoom. The Master-level course, which attracted more than 25 participants from Germany and abroad, was open to Master students, PhD students and more senior astronomers interested in the data reduction and analysis of radio interferometric data. After a brief review of the basic concepts of radio interferometry, the participants were 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 learned how to construct images and data cubes from the calibrated data and how to analyze their interferometric data. For more details of the course, please see the course homepage.

The next training course in Radio Interferometry is anticipated to start in April 2021.

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 was organised as part of the yearly meeting of the European Astronomical Society. The conference was conducted as an online conference on June 29 - July 3, 2020, in total counting 1777 participants.

The three sessions of SS13 on Friday, July 3, 2020, covered the wide field of ALMA-related research and development, from the newly commissioned observing modes to innovative analysis tools needed to exploit the wealth of ALMA data to the first exciting science results of the ALMA Large Programmes.

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.