German ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) Node

News Archive

ALMA Cycle 9 Pre-Announcement

[15 December 2021]

The Joint ALMA Observatory will start Cycle 9 observations in October 2022. A Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 9 is anticipated to be issued in March 2022 and the deadline for proposal submission will be in April 2022. In order to assist with early planning, the Observatory has published a Cycle 9 Pre-Announcement, including the anticipated timeline, updates on the technical capabilities and the proposal review process, and the anticipated configuration schedule. [If this link is temporarily unavailable, you can access the same information via the Science Portal at our partner institutes NAOJ and NRAO.]

The following capabilities will be offered in Cycle 9 for the first time:
  • Solar Total Power regional mapping scans in bands 3, 5, 6, and 7
  • VLBI continuum observations in Band 7
  • VLBI spectral line observations in Band 3
  • High-frequency and long-baseline observations, including Band 8 in configurations up through C-10, Band 9 in configurations up through C-9, and Band 10 in configurations up through C-8

Virtual community assembly on 17 December 2021

[10 December 2021]

The European ALMA Regional Centre invites all European ALMA users to a virtual community assembly on 17 December 2021 at 11:00 CET, in connection with the imminent Cycle 9 pre-announcement. At this meeting, we will update you on the current and upcoming observing cycles and on the support from the European ARC network. In the dedicated Q&A session you will have the opportunity to ask your questions. The meeting can be accessed at this link.

Looking forward to seeing you then!

The European ALMA Regional Centre

I-TRAIN #11: Continuum level determination with STATCONT

[last update: 06 December 2021]

The European ARC Network invites users to an online training on how to determine the continuum level in astronomical sources on 10 December 2021 at 11:00 CET [Zoom link].

In this tutorial you will learn about a statistically-based method aimed at determining the continuum level in astronomical sources, in particular in line-rich sources (i.e., sources for which emission and absorption features of spectral lines dominates the observed flux). The software is implemented as a python-based tool that automatically determines the continuum flux level using different statistical methods. In general, STATCONT has been found to be highly accurate with discrepancies <1% in 50% of the test cases and <5% in 90% of the cases. Details on STATCONT can be found in this link. The latest version of the software is available here and test material can be downloaded here.

The duration of this training session will be about one hour and will include an interactive Q&A session. More details on this and previous sessions can be found on the I-TRAIN homepage. For questions please do not hesitate to contact the German node.

Virtual talk series: ALMA recounts of Cosmic Conundrums

[last update: 03 December 2021]

The European ARC network is launching the new virtual talk series "ALMA recounts of Cosmic Conundrums". In every talk of this series a major astronomical question is discussed. The invited speaker will describe the context of the question and then focuses on the ALMA contribution to the field, past and future. The aim of the series is to highlight the unparalleled contribution of ALMA to the broader astronomical landscape and to provide an outlook towards the future.

The next talk of this series will take place on 12 January 2022 at 14:00 CET. The talk will be broadcast through the Youtube channel of the European ALMA Regional Centre network.

This is the current schedule:
  • 01 December 2021, 14:00 CET - How does dust enrichment around evolved stars work? (Leen Decin, KU Leuven)
  • 12 January 2022, 14:00 CET - What is the coupling between molecular clouds, star formation and stellar feedback? (Eva Schinnerer, MPIA Heidelberg)
  • 02 February 2022, 14:00 CET - How does the dynamics of galaxies evolve over cosmic time? (Francesca Rizzo, DAWN Kopenhagen)
  • 02 March 2022, 14:00 CET - How are the building blocks of life formed? (Izaskun Jimenez-Serra, Centro de Astrobiologia)
  • 06 April 2022, 14:00 CET - What is the role of filaments in star formation and how are they shaped? (Alvaro Hacar, University of Vienna)
  • 04 May 2022, 14:00 CET - How and when does planet-formation happen in disks? (Marco Tazzari, University of Cambridge)
  • 01 June 2022, 14:00 CET - What do comets tell us about the origin of Earth? (Nicolas Biver, Observatoire Paris-Site de Meudon)

ALMA explained - a series of 3-min videos

[18 November 2021]

The European ARC network presents a series of 3-min videos with the purpose of introducing and explaining ALMA and basic interferometry principles to non-experts. The videos have been prepared by experts from the ESO ARC and the ARC nodes in Europe. The first release includes 9 videos and more videos will come with time. New additions will be regularly advertised on the European ARC and ARC network social media as well as the ALMA newsletter. Enjoy the videos and share them with your friends, colleagues or students. Any video or parts of the videos can be used with proper credits without contacting us.

Training opportunity in October 2021 - February 2022: Introduction to Radio Astronomy

[last update: 15 October 2021]

The German ARC node in cooperation with the University of Bonn offers an introduction to radio astronomy for students, postdocs and more senior astronomers.

The course highlights various hot science topics currently pursued in radio astronomy, reviews the physical and mathematical foundations of modern radio astronomy and offers a wide range of practical advice from experienced observational radio astronomers. In addition, expert guest lecturers present the latest state of the art in receiver technology and backend development.

For more information, please go to the course homepage and/or contact the German node.

I-TRAIN with the European ARC Network: events in the autumn

[last update: 14 October 2021]

The European ARC Network is resuming the online training series of I-TRAIN. In the autumn we have scheduled tutorials on software tools to work with ALMA data as well as solar observations with ALMA.

Training sessions this fall:
  • I-TRAIN #8: ALminer, for mining the ALMA Archive (30 September 2021) - link to announcement
  • I-TRAIN #9: LineStacker, for stacking spectral lines (15 October 2021) - link to announcement
  • I-TRAIN #10: Solar observations with ALMA (19 November 2021)
  • I-TRAIN #11: STATCONT, for statistical continuum determination (10 December 2021)
More details on these and previous sessions can be found on the I-TRAIN homepage.

Cycle 8 2021 has started

[04 October 2021]

With the last Cycle 7 science observations completed on Friday 01 October 2021, the most challenging Cycle in ALMA's history - including a one-year break in science observing caused by the pandemic - has come to an end. On the evening of 01 October 2021, the first observations for Cycle 8 2021 were successfully completed in configuration C-8.

As always, all data taken by ALMA undergo careful quality assessment prior to the delivery to the principal investigators and the ALMA Regional Centres provide support at all stages of an ALMA project. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about your ALMA projects, please contact your local node or the ALMA Helpdesk.

New training opportunity: Introduction to Radio Astronomy

[15 September 2021]

The German ARC node in cooperation with the University of Bonn offers an introduction to radio astronomy for students, postdocs and more senior astronomers. The course highlights various hot science topics currently pursued in radio astronomy, reviews the physical and mathematical foundations of modern radio astronomy and offers a wide range of practical advice from experienced observational radio astronomers. In addition, expert guest lecturers present the latest state of the art in receiver technology and backend development.

For more information, please go to the course homepage and/or contact us at arc@astro.uni-bonn.de.

ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Supplemental Call for Proposals now OPEN

[08 September 2021]

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is now accepting observing proposals for the Atacama Compact Array (ACA) in stand-alone mode. A minimum of 1500 hours will be allocated each on the 7-m Array and the Total Power Array to proposals submitted at this Call. Proposals wih targets that can be observed in the LST range 20h to 10h are particularly encouraged. The deadline will be 15:00 UT on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

Instructions on how to submit proposals can be found on the Cycle 8 Supplemental Call web page. Proposals submitted in the Supplemental Call will be peer reviewed and each proposal team selects a designated reviewer to participate in the review process. Full details on the offered capabilities, the submission and the review process can be found in the Supplemental Call documentation.

Please note that Supplemental Call proposal submission server will not be available for a few hours on September 27 because of scheduled maintenance. The precise downtimes will be noted on the Science Portal.

ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations Status Update

[07 September 2021]

PI science observations are continuing with the 12-m and Morita Arrays. As reported in the previous status update on 15 July, there was a delay in the antenna configuration schedule due to the bad weather since May in addition to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no further delays since then, and the relocation to the hybrid C43-9/10 configuration was completed on 1 September, 2021. All C43-10 projects in the observing queue are expected to meet the beam criteria when observed in this hybrid configuration. ALMA will stay in the C43-9/10 configuration for approximately 2 weeks, enabling the highest angular resolution observations in Cycle 7. The configuration will then move back to C43-8, aiming for a smooth transition to the start of the Cycle 8 2021 on 1 October, 2021.

The ALMA Regional Centers continue to provide support to all ALMA users. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact your local node or the ALMA Helpdesk.

ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Supplemental Call Pre-Announcement

[23 August 2021]

The Cycle 8 Supplemental Call for Proposals is anticipated to open at 15:00 UT on 8 September 2021 with a proposal deadline of 15:00 UT on 6 October 2021. ALMA expects to allocate a minimum of 1500 h of observing time on the ACA in the Supplemental Call. Proposals for sources in an LST range of 20 to 10 h are particularly encouraged. Preliminary information can be found here. Complete details of the Supplemental Call will be published on 8 September 2021.

Report on the ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Review

[20 August 2021]

A detailed report on the outcome of the ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Review Process is now available here (pdf). The report includes the proposal review process, proposal statistics and regional distributions, as well as the proposal distribution across science categories and receiver bands.

The highest priority Cycle 8 2021 projects are listed here.

Update on the amplitude calibration issue affecting some ALMA data

[last update: 11 August 2021]

After the discovery of a visibility amplitude calibration error that affects fields containing strong astronomical emission (see news item below), work on correcting the affected Cycle 7 interferometric datasets has begun.
  • For all affected datasets with a >10% flux scale offset that have yet to be delivered, including those that will be observed in the remainder of Cycle 7 and in Cycle 8 2021, ALMA will apply a renormalization correction during data processing to correctly scale the amplitude calibration before being sent to PIs.
  • For affected datasets with flux scale offsets >2% but <10%, ALMA will provide renormalized data on request from the PI as needed.
  • For affected data in the ALMA Archive, an investigation is underway and plans will be described in a future announcement.
Full details of the issue and the renormalization process are given in this Knowledgebase article.

In case of questions, comments of concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your local ARC node via the ALMA Helpdesk.

ALMA Science Operations Update

[last update: 11 August 2021]

At the end on May and in mid-June, Cycle 7 PI science observations have been interrupted by snowstorms. Combined with pandemic conditions affecting maximum staffing levels at the site, this led to a delay in reaching the 12-m Array C43-7 configuration. Unfortunately, the delay has an impact on the configuration schedule for the remainder of Cycle 7. Having reached the C43-8 configuration in early August, it is planned to move into a hybrid C43-9/10 configuration by early September. All C43-10 projects in the observing queue are expected to meet the beam criteria if observed in this hybrid C43-9/10 configuration.

Cycle 8 2021 science observations, which are foreseen to start on 1 October in the C43-8 configuration, are not affected by the revised configuration schedule.

Status updates will continue to be posted in the ALMA Science Portal and on this webpage on a regular basis.

Update on operations at the German ARC node

[last update: 21 June 2021]

While the decreasing infection rates throughout Germany give hope for more face-to-face interaction in the coming months, the staff of the German ARC node continues to provide all services of an ARC node including user support and training by means of remote computing, emails and video-conferencing. Recent community events and user support include proposal preparation support in March/April via video tutorials, an online community meeting and one-on-one video chats as well as the ongoing hands-on training in radio interferometric data reduction, from the basic principles of radio interferometry to practical help with calibration and imaging of ALMA data (April to July).

While meeting in person is still discouraged, 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 as well as access to the computing infrastructure for the efficient reduction and analysis of ALMA data.

Amplitude calibration issue affecting some ALMA data

[last update: 15 June 2021]

A visibility amplitude calibration error that affects fields containing strong astronomical emission has been discovered in ALMA interferometer observations up to and including Cycle 7. This calibration scaling error originates in the combined effect of correlator spectral normalization and Tsys calibration and affects both 12-m Array and Atacama Compact Array observations. The effect of this amplitude scaling error is most notable for observations of strong, relatively narrow spectral lines, typically related to Galactic ISM and Galactic star formation (e.g., molecular lines, masers, etc.). Full technical details of the issue can be found in this Knowledgebase article

In some cases this amplitude scaling error can exceed the nominal absolute flux calibration accuracy quoted in the ALMA Technical Handbook. Affected datasets that have not yet been delivered, will be processed with a renormalization correction to correctly scale the amplitude calibration before being sent to PIs. For affected data in the ALMA Archive, an investigation is underway and plans will be described in a future announcement.

We regret any inconvenience that may arise from this issue. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact your local ALMA Regional Center via the ALMA Helpdesk at https://help.almascience.org/.

Upcoming I-TRAIN Session

[last update: 21 June 2021]

The European ARC Network has initiated I-TRAIN, a regular series of Interactive Training in Reduction and Analysis of INterferometric data. The sessions cover a wide range of topics of interest to the ALMA user community with the aim to help users gain expertise in working with interferometric data. The duration of each training session is usually about one hour, including a live demo and interactive Q & A.

Upcoming training session:
  • I-TRAIN #7: Polarization observations with ALMA on 24 June 2021, 11:00 CEST - instructions for preparing for the hands-on part are now available on the I-TRAIN homepage.
More details on this, past and future sessions, including the zoom link, can be found on the I-TRAIN homepage.

ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations Status Update

[last update: 31 May 2021]

While the full recovery of the arrays is still ongoing, ALMA has been used for PI science observations on a best-effort basis since 17 March 2021, when the 12-m Array started to conduct PI science observations with 37 antennas. PI science on the 7-m Array began on May 18 with initially eight antennas. The first set of antenna relocations was completed on May 10, moving the 12-m Array into the C43-6 configuration. Before the end of Cycle 7, it is planned to go through all remaining configurations (C43-7 to C43-10), although for a shorter duration than originally planned for each configuration.

The ALMA Regional Centers continue to provide support to all ALMA users. If you have any questions, comments or concerns related to your projects or the situation at ALMA, please contact your contact scientist, your ARC node or the ALMA Helpdesk in general.

Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Submission Statistics

[last update: 28 May 2021]

A detailed report of the Cycle 8 2021 Proposal Submission Statistics is now available as a pdf-document. The report provides a summary of items such as the number of submitted proposals and time requested, subscription rates, and comparisons with the number of hours requested in previous Cycles.

Upcoming I-TRAIN Training Sessions

[last update: 21 May 2021]

The European ARC Network has initiated I-TRAIN, a regular series of Interactive Training in Reduction and Analysis of INterferometric data. The sessions cover a wide range of topics of interest to the ALMA user community with the aim to help users gain expertise in working with interferometric data.

The duration of each training session is usually about one hour, including a live demo and interactive Q & A.

Upcoming training sessions:
  • I-TRAIN #6: Improving image fidelity through self-calibration on 25 May 2021, 11:00 CEST - note: The duration of this tutorial will be about two hours! The preparatory material for the hands-on part is now available online!

  • I-TRAIN #7: Polarization observations with ALMA on 24 June 2021, 11:00 CEST - instructions and material for preparing for the hands-on part will be made available on the I-TRAIN homepage at least a week in advance.
More details on these and future sessions, including the zoom link, can be found on the I-TRAIN homepage.

Hands-on Training Opportunity: ALMA Data Reduction

[last update: 16 April 2021]

The German ARC node offers hands-on training in the reduction and analysis of ALMA data in their online Master-level course Radio Interferometry 2021 in weekly zoom sessions in the months of April to July 2021.

Since 14 April 2021, the participants are guided through the various steps necessary to create fully calibrated data cubes from ALMA raw data. In the second part of the course, the participants learn how to construct image data cubes and maps from the calibrated data and how to analyze the data. The hands-on work is complemented by overview talks on the basic concepts of radio interferometry and on various special cases of radio interferometric data.

Thanks to its extensive online material, it is still possible to join the course. Interested students and colleagues are encouraged to contact the course coordinator.

ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations Status Update

[last update: 15 April 2021]

Since 17 March 2021, the 12-m Array has consistently been used for PI science observations, usually using more than 37 antennas in the 12-m Array. Unfortunately, it has become clear that the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Chile will have an impact on ALMA observations. Several areas in Chile are back to full lockdown and the anticipated addition of more staff to the ALMA site to conduct the change of ALMA configurations will be delayed by a minimum of 20 days.

While ALMA will continue to conduct Cycle 7 science observations in the current C43-5 configuration on a best-effort basis, the move to more extended configurations will be postponed until at least early May. This is to ensure the safety of all ALMA staff, as well as the Array, and to plan for a smooth transition to the start of Cycle 8 2021 in October.

Proposal Preparation Support at the German ARC node

[last update: 08 April 2021]

Registration for the community meeting is now open!

In the context of the Cycle 8 2021 Call for Proposals, the German ARC node offers user support focused on the preparation of ALMA observing projects in March and April 2021.

In view of the special challenges of the ongoing pandemic, the traditional all-day community event has been replaced by a combination of pre-recorded video presentations and a community meeting on 7 April 2021. The videos are available at the event homepage and can be watched conveniently at any time and location of choice. The presentations cater to astronomers with different levels of expertise, from introductory tutorials for scientists new to ALMA to a concise update for experienced ALMA users.

The presentations are complemented by an online community meeting on Wednesday, 7 April 2021, and by individual one-on-one help via video conferencing.

For details on the presentations and the one-on-one support, please refer to the Proposal Preparation homepage.

ALMA Cycle 7 Science Observations restarted

[24 March 2021]

ALMA science observations re-started on 17 March 2021. These were the first Cycle 7 data to be acquired since the Observatory shutdown, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020. The first newly-acquired datasets have now successfully passed the ALMA quality assurance stages and will shortly be delivered to our users worldwide. At present, science observations are being taken on the 12-m Array with a reduced number of antennas (at least thirty-two antennas in a C43-4/C43-5 configuration). Science observations will start on the 7-m Array when eight 7-m antennas are available.

Proposals for Director's Discretionary Time (DDT) are being accepted again. PIs should consider that DDT projects currently may be executed with fewer than the nominal number of Cycle 7 antennas. If the observations can only be performed with the nominal antenna numbers, this should be explicitly stated. Any approved DDT proposals will be observed on a best-effort basis, with priority given to completing the return to operations in a safe manner.

New ALMA Science Archive remote visualization tool

[24 March 2021]

CARTA, the Cube Analysis and Rendering Tool for Astronomy, has been integrated into the ALMA Science Archive (ASA). Now all 500,000+ ALMA science FITS files in the ALMA archive can be previewed using CARTA (excluding Cycle 0). CARTA is a new image visualization and analysis tool that can visualize large images from a remote server within seconds. More details can be found here or on the CARTA hopepage.

ALMA Cycle 8 2021 Call for Proposals Now OPEN

[17 March 2021]

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 2021 Call for Proposals for scientific observations is now OPEN!

ALMA Cycle 8 2021 is currently scheduled for observations from October 2021 to September 2022. Users of any nationality or affiliation are invited to submit proposals before the deadline of 15:00 UT on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

EU-ARC Virtual Community Assembly on 19 March 2021

[15 March 2021]

The European ALMA Regional Centre invites all European ALMA users to a virtual community assembly on 19 March at 12:30 CET. At this community meeting, we will update you on the current and upcoming observing cycle and address FAQs on how PI science will be carried out. Also we can answer any questions you may have on your ALMA projects and support from the European ARC network. The meeting can be accessed at this link.

Return to Science Operations

[15 March 2021]

While the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect lives around the world, ALMA staff have been moving forward on the long road toward recovering the Arrays and resuming science operations. The antennas in the 12-m Array and ACA are in the process of being powered up and inspected one by one to make them ready for science observations. A series of end-to-end tests has now been completed successfully on a subset of antennas.

As a result, ALMA anticipates restarting limited science operations in March 2021 with at least thirty-two antennas on the 12-m array in cofiguration C43-4/C43-5 and at least eight antennas on the 7-m array. During the limited science operations phase, ALMA will also perform test observations on capabilities for future cycles and will continue the recovery of antennas. More details

Operations at the German ARC node

[last update: 12 March 2021]

In light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the German ARC node and the hosting universities of Bonn and Cologne have extended their measures against the spread of the corona virus. With all necessary infrastructure maintained with minimum staff on site, most of the staff continue to work efficiently in their home offices.

By means of remote computing, emails and video-conferencing, the staff of the German ARC node continues to provide all services of an ARC node including user support and training. While meeting in person is discouraged, 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.

Upcoming community events and user support:
  • March/April: Proposal preparation support - information and practical help with Cycle 8 2021 proposals by means of video tutorials, an online community meeting and one-on-one video chats
  • April-July: Hands-on training in radio interferometric data reduction - a hands-on course via zoom from the basic principles of radio interferometry to practical help with calibration and imaging of ALMA data

ALMA Return to Operations status

[last update: 25 January 2021]

Due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile, the ALMA Observatory had to be shut down in March 2020. Six months later, the long process of recovering the telescope array started with the ultimate goal to resume science operations and deliver high-quality science data to ALMA users as soon as possible under the given circumstances.

At this moment, the ALMA antennas are in the process of being powered up and inspected after having been stowed for about 300 days. The central local oscillator and the two correlators at the high site have successfully been started and the first antennas have been paired up to perform initial interferometric testing by science operations.

The Operations Support Facility (OSF) can now sustain a minimum number of ALMA staff. Nevertheless, the way towards science observations is still long and uncertain and heavily depends on issues that may be discovered as well as on the pandemic situation in Chile and the rest of the world.

3mm VLBI observations in Cycle 8 2021

[11 January 2021]

The phased ALMA array is expected to participate in Global mm-VLBI Array (GMVA) observations during ALMA Cycle 8 2021 (October 2021 - September 2022). Interested parties find an introduction to the GMVA+ALMA observing mode here.

Investigators who are planning to submit a GMVA+ALMA proposal or have submitted a GMVA+ALMA proposal in early 2020 should note the following policies:
  • Proposals submitted at the GMVA deadline in February 2020 have been reviewed by the GMVA observatories, but not by ALMA. On the GMVA side, these projects will be carried over (with their grades) for possible scheduling in the GMVA Session I 2022. These proposals will compete with any new GMVA+ALMA proposals submitted at the February 2021 deadline. On the ALMA side, the proposals must be re-submitted by the ALMA proposal deadline in April 2021 and will be reviewed together with any newly submitted GMVA+ALMA proposals.

  • Proposers who wish to revise their GMVA+ALMA proposal submitted in early 2020 can do so by submitting a revised version to the GMVA before 01 February 2021 in addition to submitting the proposal to ALMA by the proposal deadline in April 2021. In those cases, the proposers should give the code number of the earlier GMVA proposal that is superseded.

  • New proposals for GMVA+ALMA must be submitted to the GMVA before the GMVA deadline on 01 February 2021. In addition, a separate proposal must be submitted to ALMA by the deadline in April 2021.

Pre-announcement of the Cycle 8 2021 Call for Proposals

[17 December 2020]

After ALMA Cycle 8 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new cycle of observations, referred to as Cycle 8 2021, is anticipated to start in October 2021. A Call for Proposals (CfP) with detailed information on Cycle 8 2021 is expected to be issued in March 2021, with the deadline for proposal submission in April 2021.

In order to facilitate an early preparation, this pre-announcement provides an overview of the anticipated capabilities, configurations and updated procedures. This pre-announcement supersedes the pre-announcement published for Cycle 8 in December 2019. While the global pandemic continues to evolve, interested parties are encouraged to check the ALMA Science Portal for the latest information.

Second European ALMA Regional Centre community assembly

[14 December 2020]

All European ALMA users are cordially invited to a virtual community assembly on December 18 at 11:00 CET, following the pre-announcement for Cycle 8 2021, scheduled for December 17. At this community meeting, the ALMA director will present the latest on the Return to Operations. Participants will then get information on the timeline for the Call for Proposals, ALMA's capabilities and changes in the reviewing process for Cycle 8 2021. Finally, there will be the opportunity to ask questions on all the above in a dedicated Q&A session. The meeting can be accessed via this link.

Upgrade of Helpdesk software on December 3 and 4

[last update: 14 December 2020]

On December 3 and 4 the ALMA Helpdesk migrated to a new service provider, Deskpro. The new Helpdesk system has the same functionality as the current system, but with an enhanced user experience for the ALMA users when creating tickets and interacting with the knowledgebase. We are confident that the new system will further improve the value of the Helpdesk in supporting exciting ALMA science. If you encounter any difficulties or if you have questions related to the new system, please don't hesitate to contact us, either via the Helpdesk or by email to arc at astro.uni-bonn.de.

ALMA training sessions

[last update: 14 December 2020]

The European ARC Network has initiated a series of online topical training sessions focused on the analysis of ALMA and interferometric data in general. The sessions cover a wide range of topics of interest to the ALMA user community with the aim to help users gain expertise in working with interferometric data.

The topics of the first three ALMA training sessions are
1. Imaging with the ALMA Pipeline (December 4, 2020, 11:00 CET)
2. ALMA Science Archive update and ARI-L (December 15, 2020, 11:00 CET)
3. UVMultiFit (January 15, 2021, 11:00 CET)

The duration of each training session is approximately one hour and includes a live demo and an interactive Q& A session. More details on these and future sessions can be found in the EU-ARC announcements.

ALMA during the COVID-19 pandemic

[last update: 16 November 2020]

Six months after the ALMA Observatory had to be shut down due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile, ALMA has started the long process of recovering the telescope array, ultimately leading to operations and science observations. During the shut-down, almost the whole ALMA site was shut down, with a ALMA Caretaker Teams ensuring the safety and security of the ALMA Observatory.

On 21 October, ALMA started the Operation Support Facility (OSF) Ramp-up phase, during which the Operations Support Facility is returned to normal service, including food service, the opening of labs and offices, and the confirmation of the stability of critical services. The total duration of this phase is expected to be approximately 50 days, contingent on the gate reviews, after which the Array Operations Site Phase 1 should commence, starting with the technical building and associated infrastructure, before moving to the final phase of powering and recovering antenna elements.

ALMA is stepping through a number of carefully defined phases as part of the Return-To-Operation (RTO) procedure, following the philosophy of the Chilean paso-a-paso (step-by-step) return to normal life within the Country. More details on the recovery plan can be found here.


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 remains suspended. 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 in spring 2020 remain available to the community. When the new Cycle 8 Call for Proposals will be issued, these tools will be updated accordingly. In addition, the German node will again offer a drop-in proposal clinic via zoom.

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

[last update: 16 November 2020]

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

By means of remote computing, emails and video-conferencing, the staff of the German ARC node continues to provide all services of an ARC node including user support and training on a best effort basis. In the months of April through August, the node successfully conducted the hands-on training course "Radio Interferometry" via zoom. While meeting in person is discouraged, 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.

The First 60000 ARI-L Images are Now Available in the ALMA Science Archive

[13 October 2020]

The first 60000 data cubes and continuum images generated by the Additional Representative Images for Legacy (ARI-L) ALMA development project are now available to download from the ALMA Science Archive (ASA). In addition to the primary-beam-corrected images, the released products also include the primary beams, and mask for all targets and calibrators of more than 1200 Cycle 3 and 4 datasets. More information on the European development project ARI-L can be found here.

The ARI-L image products can be retrieved from the ALMA Science Archive as Externally delivered products on the Request Handler download page directly listed below the ALMA data. Furthermore, all the corresponding calibrated measurement sets are stored on the INAF-IA2 facilities and can be requested through the ARI-L project website.

European ALMA Community Assembly on 08 October

[02 October 2020]

The European ALMA Regional Centre invites all European ALMA users to a short virtual community assembly on October 8 at 10:00 CEST. After a long period of suspended science observing, there is now a path towards getting back on sky and collecting science data with ALMA again. The meeting will include an update on the timeline for recovery and offers an opportunity for questions on individual ALMA projects and support from the European ARC network. The meeting can be accessed via this link (Microsoft Teams).

ALMA during the COVID-19 pandemic

[last update: 02 October 2020]

Six months after the ALMA Observatory had to be shut down due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chile, ALMA is now starting the long process of recovering the telescope array, ultimately leading to operations and science observations. During the shut-down, almost the whole ALMA site was shut down, with a ALMA Caretaker Teams ensuring the safety and security of the ALMA Observatory. In the past months, the ALMA Observatory has developed an extensive set of enhanced safety protocols and a detailed plan for the recovery of operations which will take at least 80 days until the power-up of the first antennas, contingent on the further development of the pandemic. More details on the recovery plan can be found here.

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.