Report from the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee (DIC)

From/de Brenda Matthews
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

The program of the 2016 CASCA annual meeting in Winnipeg included the society’s first session on Diversity & Inclusivity. The very well-attended session was hosted by the recently formed Diversity and Inclusivity Committee (DIC).

The committee is charged with the following:

  • Taking a critical look at CASCA’s ethics statement and making suggestions.
  • Preparing a section on the CASCA web page summarizing best practices for hiring and for inclusivity in the workplace.
  • Moderating an open discussion session on inclusivity at the CASCA Annual General Meeting.
  • Compiling national statistics on women and minorities in Astrophysics and making these publicly available on the CASCA website.
  • Acting as points of contact for people in the community who feel harassed or need advice on issues related to harassment.
  • Ensuring that CASCA meetings are welcoming for all members.

The ultimate goal of improved awareness of diversity and inclusivity is to foster a respectful workplace. To that end, the committee has adopted the following mission statement:

“The Diversity and Inclusivity Committee will undertake initiatives that will encourage members of CASCA (and their organizations) to foster diversity among participants in astronomical research. Our goal is for CASCA to serve as an example of inclusiveness to the broader scientific community.”

and provided a Code of Conduct for CASCA meetings that was adopted for the in Winnipeg meeting. The DIC welcomes comments on the Code of Conduct and suggestions for its improvement and can be contacted at

Why Should we Care about Diversity?

If we exclude minorities, we exclude the bright minds that could make a significant contribution to the field. Research suggests that in general, diversity is an important tool – many of the major discoveries in science (or even the advancement of society in general) often came from the intersection of unexpected roads, where people from different backgrounds offered new ideas. In other words, diversity stimulates new ideas.

Coming to Grips with Unconscious Bias

There have been many studies both inside and outside academia that establish that “implicit” or “unconscious” bias is real and at play in hiring, job performance evaluation and other aspects of advancement. We discussed several of these in our presentation (which will be made available to the community). In particular, we highlighted the findings of Neill Reid (2014), who has analyzed the results of 11 cycles of HST time allocations and has found that in every cycle, proposals with female PIs are less successful than those with male PIs. Sometimes, the difference is a very small number of proposals, but the fact that the trend is always the same suggests the effect is real. Furthermore, it is not mitigated by a higher ratio of female to male reviewers, substantiating the fact that unconscious bias is exhibited by men and women alike. Similar studies have been done for two early cycles of ALMA allocation where a deficit of allocations to female PIs has also been identified. The ALMA/NRAO report is not yet public.

After an initial presentation about the mandate of the committee, some results of relevant surveys on diversity and why we all should embrace increasing diversity in our community, the community then engaged in an interactive discussion about how to handle certain situations that can arise relating to issues of diversity and inclusivity. The fact is that these “fictitious” scenarios in fact are representative of experiences of many of those in our community. When we are confronted with the scenarios below, it can be difficult to decide how best to intercede. Many of us may feel that it is not our business to inject ourselves into discussions or situations, challenge the behaviour of others, or know how to follow up with either party.

Each time a scenario was posed, groups took time to discuss the scenario and come up with suggestions as to how each should be handled. What follows are the questions that were asked and the suggestions that were made.

Fictitious situation #1

You are interviewing for an academic position and the person asks, “The project is at a turning point and I want to hire a committed person. Do you think you will have a child during your graduate degree/postdoc/faculty appointment? ”

Similar questions that can be asked during an interview: “Are you married? What does your partner do? Do you think you will be fully committed considering your family responsibilities?”

Make no mistake. This question is wholly inappropriate and is often expressly illegal in some jurisdictions, but commonly justified as a way of assessing someone’s “seriousness” about their career. It also has at its base an unjustified assumption that if one has or will ever procreate (or has any family commitments outside their work), they are therefore less able to do scientific research.

Several respondents recommended a “vague” approach and either saying something like “not in the immediate future” or just ignoring the personal aspect of the question and talking up one’s sense of commitment. Another suggestion was to turn the question around, for example by asking “Is this question legal?” or “Do you ask this of all your candidates?” or by asking your own questions regarding the root of the questioner’s intent. Still another suggestion was not to answer at all, but to just sit and shuffle your papers until they move onto the next question. A final suggestion was to state that you would be willing to discuss this issue once an offer has been made.

The recommendation for those questioning job applicants is to have questions reviewed by HR before interviewing anyone. The job applicant is also interviewing YOU and these questions can very negatively impact the applicant’s perception of the interviewer/department.

Did you know?

NSERC now funds parental leave grants! NSERC offers family and medical leave grants for students that have scholarships AND students who are paid with an NSERC grant (i.e., not their own!) valid for up to 6 months. Check out the following link for more information.

Fictitious Question #2

You are at a conference poster session. You notice that someone is behaving in a way toward a colleague that you think he/she might later regret.


One of your friends exhibits inappropriate behaviour during the welcome reception at an international conference.

Many respondents emphasized the need to both immediately diffuse the situation for the benefit of the object of the potentially unwanted attention and also the need to deal with the person behaving in an inappropriate way. The best thing to do if you suspect someone is uneasy but aren’t sure is just to inject yourself into the situation. By adding a third party in the dynamic (and a potential witness), you may give the person on the receiving end of the attention a chance to leave or bolster their confidence. If you’ve misread the situation, there is no harm done. It was noted that afterward, you can offer yourself as a witness to both parties, noting what you saw and, depending on your degree of comfort with the “aggressor”, you can confront them about their behaviour. At the AAS, they now identify “Allies” who can be sought out if assistance is needed (for example if a junior person doesn’t feel able to insert themselves into a situation where they feel assistance is needed). At CASCA meetings, you should now report such incidents to the LOC or members of the CDI.

Fictitious Situation #3

A co-worker puts a calendar of provocative women/men on the wall of your common office. What do you do?


You notice that one of your colleagues has posted a cartoon of questionable taste on the door of your common office. What do you do?

Several people noted that provincial human rights guidelines are likely violated in the first case of this example, so the university (or a local departmental representative) should step in to remove such material. Several other people said that all departments should take care to inform ALL employees (including students) of the policies that are in place. In the US, harassment/sensitivity training is common for all faculty and staff; Ontario universities will likely have something similar soon. In the case of the calendar at one Canadian institution, female grad students made paper clothes and covered up the calendar until it was taken down.

Fictitious Situation #4

You have just been offered your dream job. Your colleague, who also applied for the position, says that you were probably offered the job simply because you are part of an underrepresented minority group. How do you respond?

One suggestion was to insult the person right back, or take an assertive position and state that “I got the job because I’m better”. It was also pointed out, however, it is not often possible to just throw back an insult since the person(s) involved may be junior and such language is most easily thrown around by those who are well established (for whom blowback will be minimal/non-existent). It was also suggested that you state the more reasonable version of “people get jobs for all kinds of reasons.” If this person is a friend, you could note that such statements make you uncomfortable, acknowledging that you realize they may be upset at the news that they did not get the offer.

Fictitious Situation #5

You are explaining at a social event that you are a physicist and that you study the Universe. The person next to you looks surprised and says “you don’t look like a physicist”. How do you respond?

Similar questions: “You are smart for an African-American. Aren’t all Asians good at math and physics?”

We ran out of time in the session, so this scenario is left for your own consideration.

We thank all the members of CASCA who attended the session and participated with such enthusiasm. The committee welcomes input from the community and will be undertaking a Climate Survey in the near future.

The DIC members are:
Pauline Barmby
Bryan Gaensler
Lauren Hetherington
Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo
Brenda Matthews (chair)

BRITE-Constellation News

From/de Gregg Wade
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)


BRITE-Constellation (where BRITE stands for BRIght Target Explorer) is a network of five nanosatellites operating in low Earth orbit, designed to explore the properties of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Figure 1 - The mission patch of the BRITE-Constellation mission.

Figure 1 – The mission patch of the BRITE-Constellation mission.

The BRITE mission is supported by three countries — Canada, Austria and Poland — where Canadian funding comes mainly from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the prime contractor is the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies – Spaceflight Laboratory (UTIAS-SFL). The mission was planned to have 6 BRITE nanosats, a pair from each partner country, but one of the Canadian nanosats did not detach from the third stage of its launch vehicle. Each BRITE nanosat (mass = 7 kg; dimensions 20 × 20 × 20 cm) has a 3-cm optical telescope feeding a CCD detector. The Constellation was designed to monitor photometrically through blue and red filters the brightness and temperature variations of stars generally brighter than V ~ 4 with precision, cadence and time coverage not possible from the ground. Each BRITE instrument has an enormous field-of-view: 24° square, large enough to encompass the entire constellation of Orion (but at a resolution of only about half an arcminute per pixel). That means BRITE-Constellation can collect data on several dozens of stars simultaneously.

Figure 2 - Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of the stars of brightest  apparent magnitude, V<4.5. These ∼ 600 stars are the primary BRITE targets.

Figure 2 – Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of the stars of brightest apparent magnitude, V<4.5. These ∼ 600 stars are the primary BRITE targets.[/caption] The sample of the apparently brightest stars in the night sky is a sample dominated by the most intrinsically luminous stars in the Galaxy: hot massive stars at all evolutionary stages, and evolved intermediate-mass stars at the very end of their nuclear-burning phases. The main goals of BRITE-Constellation are to (1) measure the frequencies of pulsations (both acoustic and gravity modes) to probe the interiors and ages of stars through asteroseismology; (2) measure the rotational modulation of stars due to star spots carried across their disks; (3) search for exoplanets through transits; and (4) obtain light curves of massive eclipsing binaries. While goal (2) is often associated with cool solar-type stars, spots in the photospheres of luminous stars could be the sources of co-rotating interaction regions in the winds, possibly arising from magnetic subsurface convection in hot, massive stars. A detailed overview of the scientific motivation of the mission, and technical aspects of the system, are provided by Weiss et al. (2015, PASP 126, 573).

Mission Status and Data Releases

Five of the planned six BRITE nanosats are currently operating nominally in low-altitude (600-800 km) orbits. (One satellite currently remains unusable in a higher elliptical orbit due to a malfunction in the release mechanism of the Russian rocket third stage.)

[caption id="attachment_6337" align="alignright" width="300"]Figure 3 - The two Canadian BRITE nanosatellites (named "BRITE-Montreal", blue filter and "BRITE-Toronto", red filter), at UTIAS-SFL prior to shipment in 2014. Figure 3 – The two Canadian BRITE nanosatellites (named “BRITE-Montreal”, blue filter and “BRITE-Toronto”, red filter), at UTIAS-SFL prior to shipment in 2014.

Eleven fields have been observed so far, and ten data releases to BRITE Target PIs have occurred. The first was a set of science commissioning data, including about 5 months of quasi-continuous observation of 15 stars in Orion. Subsequent releases were 6-month campaigns of fields in Centaurus and Lupus (30 stars), Sagittarius (18 stars), Cygnus (37 stars), and Perseus (31 stars). Orion was observed again, as were fields in Vela and Puppis (20 stars), Scorpius (26 stars), Cygnus-II (34 stars) and Cassiopeia/Cepheus (25 stars). The distribution of the third Orion field and the second Vela and Puppis field data will begin shortly. Reduction of the recently-observed Canis Majoris and Puppis field images is ongoing and shall be completed by the end of June. Currently, the Crucis and Carina field is being observed (and will remain visible until July), as are the second Sagittarius and the Cygnus and Lyra fields (which will continue to be visible until September/October 2016).

The first BRITE science results have been accepted in refereed journals: Three science papers by Weiss et al. on the pulsating magnetic star α Cir, by Baade et al. on the short-term variability and mass loss of the Be stars μ and η Cen, and by Pigulski et al. on the triple system β Cen (a complex system containing at least one β Cep pulsator) have been published together in issue 588 of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

A new paper describing the characteristics of the BRITE hardware and technical problem-solving on the ground and after launch led by Dr. Bert Pablo (Université de Montréal) has been submitted to PASP.

The first BRITE science conference, “Science with BRITE Constellation: Initial Results” took place during 14 – 18 September 2015 in Gdansk Sobieszewo, Poland. The next BRITE science workshop is planned from 22-26 August in Innsbruck, Austria. Registration is now available at this link.

Figure 4 - Light curves of the eclipsing binary V Pup, observed as part of the BRITE Vela/Puppis field. Shown here is a 5-day interval of the BRITE-Austria (blue) and BRITE-Toronto (red) observations.

Figure 4 – Light curves of the eclipsing binary V Pup, observed as part of the BRITE Vela/Puppis field. Shown here is a 5-day interval of the BRITE-Austria (blue) and BRITE-Toronto (red) observations.

Mission Management and Contact

Executive decisions about the mission are made by the BEST (BRITE Executive Science Team), consisting of representatives from all three partner nations. The Canadian BEST members are Jaymie Matthews (UBC), Tony Moffat (Université de Montréal), Slavek Rucinski (University of Toronto), and Gregg Wade (BEST Vice-Chair and Canadian PI, Royal Military College), with Jason Rowe (Université de Montréal) and Stefan Mochnacki (University of Toronto) serving as non-voting BEST members.

Setting priorities on BRITE targets and science goals was overseen by BEST, with input from the BRITE International Science Advisory Team (BIAST), consisting of 130 astronomers around the globe. Interested in joining BIAST, to participate in data analysis, and receive monthly mission updates? Please contact BEST through Gregg Wade (

Baade, D.; Rivinius, Th.; Pigulski, A.; Carciofi, A. C.; Martayan, Ch.; Moffat, A. F. J.; Wade, G. A.; Weiss, W. W.; Grunhut, J.; Handler, G.; Kuschnig, R.; Mehner, A.; Pablo, H.; Popowicz, A.; Rucinski, S.; Whittaker, G., 2016, “Short-term variability and mass loss in Be stars. I. BRITE satellite photometry of η and μ Centauri”, A&A, 588, 56

“The BRITE Constellation cubesat mission: Testing, commissioning and operations”, B. Pablo and 28 co-authors, under review for publication in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Pigulski, A.; Cugier, H.; Popowicz, A.; Kuschnig, R.; Moffat, A. F. J.; Rucinski, S. M.; Schwarzenberg-Czerny, A.; Weiss, W. W.; Handler, G.; Wade, G. A.; Koudelka, O.; Matthews, J. M.; Mochnacki, St.; Orleański, P.; Pablo, H.; Ramiaramanantsoa, T.; Whittaker, G.; Zocłońska, E.; Zwintz, K.; 2016, “Massive pulsating stars observed by BRITE-Constellation. I. The triple system beta Centauri (Agena)”, A&A, 588, 55

Weiss, W.W.; Rucinski, S.M.; Moffat, A.F.J.; Schwarzenberg-Czerny, A.; Koudelka, O.F.; Grant, C.C.; Zee, R.E.; Kuschnig, R.; Mochnacki, St.; Matthews, J.M.; Orleanski, P.; Pamyatnykh, A.; Pigulski, A.; Alves, J.; Guedel, M.; Handler, G.; Wade, G.A.; Zwintz, K., 2014, “BRITE-Constellation: Nanosatellites for Precision Photometry of Bright Stars”, PASP 126, 573.

Weiss, W.W.; Frohlich, H.-E.; Pigulski, A.; Popowicz, A.; Huber, D.; Kuschnig, R.; Moffat, A.F.J.; Matthews, J.M.;, Saio, H.; Schwarzenberg-Czerny, A.; Grant, C; Koudelka, O.; Lueftinger, T.; Rucinski, S.; Wade, G.A.; Alves, J.; Guedel, M.; Handler, G.; Mochnacki, S.; Orleanski, P.;, Pablo, B.; Pamyatnykh, A.; Ramiaramanantsoa, T; Rowe, J.; Whittaker, G.; Zawistowski, T.; Zoconska, E.; Zwintz, K., 2016, “The roAp star alpha Cir seen by BRITE-Constellation”, A&A, 588, 54

Astronomer Ivan Semeniuk Wins 2016 Sandford Fleming Medal

From/de John Percy
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

Ivan Semeniuk

Ivan Semeniuk

I’m pleased to report that astronomer Ivan Semeniuk is the 2016 recipient of the Sandford Fleming Medal and Citation, awarded since 1982 by the Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIS). RCIS is Canada’s oldest scientific society. For 167 years, it has worked towards the goal of an informed public that embraces science to build a stronger Canada. Ivan Semeniuk has contributed significantly to that goal in ways which are remarkable for their quality, quantity, and variety.

Ivan received his BSc in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Toronto, and his MS in Science Journalism from Boston University. He was an instructor/researcher at the Ontario Science Centre from 1986 to 1999 (and a go-to person for print and electronic media interviews), a columnist and summer host and producer at Discovery Channel Canada from 1995 to 2005, a bureau chief for New Scientist and subsequently a chief of correspondents for Nature. He created numerous TV, radio, and print works on a freelance basis including the 30-episode TV series Cosmic Vistas. In 2013, he joined the Globe and Mail (“Canada’s national newspaper”) as science reporter. In the words of Globe and Mail editor-in-chief David Walmsley, “In Ivan Semeniuk, the Globe and Mail has a world-class science correspondent who travels the world and outer space with his pen and his mind. His clarity of writing across a broad range of scientific topics from biology, to astronomy, to chemistry creates an accessable understanding of our planet and our galaxy”. His many fellowships and awards include a Gemini nomination, and two other film awards.

Ivan was Science Journalist-in-Residence at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics from 2008 to 2010. He continues to give short courses and workshops, for science graduate students, in science communication and journalism, and invited lectures to groups such as CASCA, as well as to the public. In this way, he is helping to produce the next generation of science communicators in Canada, as well as to promote science literacy himself.

The Sandford Fleming Medal and Citation is named for RCIS co-founder Sir Sandford Fleming, engineer, surveyor, and successful proponent of Standard Time. It will be presented at a special ceremony in November.

Dissertation: The Inner Gaseous Disk of Herbig Be Stars


By Parshati Patel
Thesis defended on April 25, 2016
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western University
Thesis advisors: Dr. Aaron Sigut and Dr. John Landstreet
Thesis link:


Herbig Ae/Be stars are intermediate mass (~2 to 20 Msun) pre-main sequence stars that inherit a circumstellar disk of dust and gas from their formation phase. The region of this disk closest to the star is entirely gaseous because dust evaporates at the high temperatures there, and this gaseous region is currently poorly understood. Using non-LTE circumstellar disk codes to model the optical and near-infrared spectra of five, early-type (B0Ve to B2Ve) Herbig Be stars obtained with the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope ESPaDOnS instrument, the density structure of each inner gaseous disks was determined and estimates of the disk masses and sizes were obtained. In the modeling, the photoionizing radiation of the central B star was assumed to be disk’s sole source of energy input.

For the four Herbig B2e stars, BD+65 1637, HD 76534, HD 114981 and HD 21669, reasonable matches were found for all emission line profiles considered individually; however, for each star, no disk density model based on a single power law for the equatorial density was able to simultaneously fit all of the observed emission lines in the spectrum. For BD+65 1637, the equatorial disk density law was estimated to fall as 10-10(R*/R)3 g cm-3 in a 50 R* disk, and this model provided a reasonable match to the overall line shapes and strengths. The stars HD 76534, HD 114981 and HD 216629 required a similar density model to that of BD+65 1637, but in a smaller, 25 R* disk. The overall implied masses of these inner gaseous disks are in the range of ~5.7 x 10-8 to 1.2 x 10-9 M*.

For BD+65 1637, the metal lines, Fe II and especially the Ca II IR triplet lines, required higher disk densities than implied by the hydrogen Balmer lines, with the disk density falling more slowly as 10-10(R*/R)2 g cm-3. In general, for all stars, the metal lines of Ca II and Fe II required higher disk densities than the Balmer lines to match the observed line profiles. A more complex disk density distribution is likely required to reconcile this difference and refine the match to the spectra of these stars.

The spectrum of the Herbig B0e star MWC 137 is dominated by very strong emission lines in comparison to the Herbig B2e stars. Preliminary results show that the models require extended disks to reproduce the observed Ca II and Fe II metal emission line profiles. For hydrogen Balmer lines, no disk models extending up to 200 R* were capable of reproducing the observed line strengths, indicating that even larger disks are required and/or the observed hydrogen lines are contaminated by hydrogen recombination emission from the surrounding H II region.

Taken as a whole, the analysis of these five, early-type HBe stars suggest that the optical and near-IR emission lines in their spectra can be adequately accounted for by an inner, entirely gaseous, disk in Keplerian rotation, heated solely by the photoionizing energy input of the central star, and requiring only a tiny fraction ~10-7 of the central star’s mass.

Dissertation: Star Formation in the Auriga-California Giant Molecular Cloud and its Circumstellar Disk Population

20160414_162443 copy 2

By Hannah Broekhoven-Fiene
Thesis defended on April 14, 2016
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria
Thesis advisor: Dr. Brenda Matthews


This thesis presents a multiwavelength analysis, from the infrared to the microwave, of the young, forming stars in the Auriga-California Molecular Cloud and a first look at the disks they host and their potential for forming planetary systems. At the beginning of this thesis, Auriga-Cal had only recently been identified as one contiguous cloud with its distance placing it within the Gould Belt of nearby star-forming regions (Lada et al., 2009). This thesis presents the largest body of work to date on Auriga-Cal’s star formation and disk population. Auriga-Cal is one of two nearby giant molecular clouds (GMCs) in the Gould Belt, the other being the Orion A molecular cloud. These two GMCs have similar mass (~105 solar masses), spatial scale (~80 pc), distance (~450 pc), and filamentary morphology, yet the two clouds present very different star formation qualities and quantities. Namely, Auriga-Cal is forming far fewer stars and does not exhibit the high-mass star formation seen in Orion A. In this thesis, I present a census of the star forming objects in the infrared with the Spitzer Space Telescope showing that Auriga-Cal contains at least 166 young stellar objects (YSOs), 15–20 times fewer stars than Orion A, the majority of which are located in the cluster around LkHalpha 101, NGC 1529, and the filament extending from it. I find the submillimetre census with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, sensitive to the youngest objects, arrives at a similar result showing the disparity between the two clouds observed in the infrared continues to the submillimetre. Therefore the relative star formation rate between the two clouds has remained constant in recent times. The final chapter introduces the first study targeted at the disk population to measure the formation potential of planetary systems around the young stars in Auriga-Cal. The dust thermal emission at cm wavelengths is observed to measure the relative amounts of cm-sized grains, indicative of the grain growth processes that take place in disks and are necessary for planet formation. For a subsample of our targets, we are able to measure the spectral slope in the cm to confirm the thermal nature of the observed emission that we detect and characterize the signature of grain growth. The sensitivity of our observations probes masses greater than the minimum mass solar nebula (MMSN), the disk mass required to form the Solar System. We detect 19 disks, representing almost a third of our sample, comparable to the numbers of disks in other nearby star-forming regions with disks masses exceeding the MMSN, suggesting that the disk population in Auriga-Cal possesses similar planet formation potential as populations in other clouds. Confirmation of this result requires future observations with mm interferometry, the wavelength regime where the majority of statistics of disks has been measured.

Gemini News/Nouvelles de Gemini

By/par Stéphanie Côté (NRC Herzberg)
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

La version française suit

Some Stats About Semester 2016B

After a record crop of proposals last semester 2016A (the total number of hours requested was one of our largest demand in Canadian Gemini history), a more modest, although still healthy, request for Gemini time was received for semester 2016B. Gemini-South was slightly more oversubscribed at 1.65, than Gemini-North at 1.53 (using the ratio of requested time over the amount of time available in Band 1 and 2 to Canada; Band 1 + Band 2 hours correspond to the number of hours actually observed for Canadian programs each semester, while Band 3 is overfilling the queue).

As usual, up to close to 40% of the proposals were for MSc/PhD students’ theses this semester. Only a handful of ToO proposals were received (2 rapid and 2 standards). No Subaru Exchange proposals were received this semester, although this is not unusual.

Figure 1 - Oversubscription on Gemini-North (blue) and Gemini-South (red).

Figure 1 – Oversubscription on Gemini-North (blue) and Gemini-South (red).

Figure 2 - Number of Joint, Thesis, ToO and Subaru Exchange proposals received in the last semesters.

Figure 2 – Number of Joint, Thesis, ToO and Subaru Exchange proposals received in the last semesters.

For Semester 2016B, more proposals were received for GRACES (high-resolution spectroscopy) than for any other instruments including GMOS-N and GMOS-S. This is very rare and has only happened once before that an instrument is more popular than either GMOS (Flamingos2 managed this feat once, a few semesters ago). Note that the GRACES proposals are all for galactic work so far, even though its excellent throughput would allow to venture to extragalactic targets. On Gemini-South more proposals were received for GMOS-S and Flamingos2. On the pie chart (Figure 3) of % of time requested for each instrument Phoenix (near-IR high-resolution spectroscopy) is prominent, however this is due to a single large proposal that requested 30% of the G-South time.

Figure 3 - Pie charts of the percentages of time requested by each instrument, on Gemini-North (left) and Gemini-South (right).

Figure 3 – Pie charts of the percentages of time requested by each instrument, on Gemini-North (left) and Gemini-South (right).

News on Data Reduction Cookbooks!

GMOS users will be happy to know that the long-awaited “GMOS Data Reduction Cookbook” is now available! It is available here. It was written by Dick Shaw, from the US NGO, including input from the CGO. It covers everything from getting started in iraf/pyraf to processing all GMOS modes including Nod-&-Shuffle and IFU. It is easy to follow, with detailed iraf commands at each step. It also lists excellent on-line resources that could be helpful. Please make sure to check it out and send us your comments, or additions.

The next cookbook in the works will be for GSOAI/GeMs. In the meantime users can check out the excellent tutorials that were presented as a mini-AO workshop at the January AAS in Florida to help neophytes wishing to carry out AO programs. In particular check out the presentation from Tim Davidge on “AO 101: Setting up and characterizing observations of resolved stellar systems”, available here. There is also an excellent presentation covering the AO basics by Claire Max (University of California at Santa Cruz) on “Adaptive Optics for Astronomers: The Basics”, available here, and a more advanced tutorial by Franck Marchis (SETI Institute) on “Processing and Data Analysis With AO instruments: Challenges and Perspectives”, available here.

Recent Canadian Press Releases

  • In March 2016 was announced the discovery of the highest velocity C IV broad absorption line seen to date, in the z = 2.47 quasar SDSS J023011.28+005913.6. This was led by Jesse Rogerson (York University) as part of his thesis with supervisor Patrick Hall (York University), and including co-Is Paola Hildago & Patrik Pirkola (York University). About a quarter of quasars exhibit blueshifted broad absorption troughs at ultraviolet wavelengths. These features are a result of material lifted off the accretion disc surrounding the central supermassive black hole and blown away by the quasar radiation, driving the winds to high velocities which are observed as blueshifted absorption. The team sifted through SDSS spectra to select the best 100 new outflows from quasars to follow with GMOS. They discovered this outflow clocking at ∼60 000 km/s, the fastest ever seen. These high velocities outflows will help constrain theoretical acceleration models. The full press release is available here and the full paper is here.
  • Figure 4 - Three GMOS spectra obtained at different times of the z =2.47 quasar J0230 show the variability of the absorption features, especially the CIV near rest-frame wavelength 1550Å. (Figure 4 of  “Multi-epoch observations of extremely high-velocity emergent broad absorption”, Rogerson, Hall, Hidalgo et al, MNRAS, 457, 405).

    Figure 4 – Three GMOS spectra obtained at different times of the z =2.47 quasar J0230 show the variability of the absorption features, especially the CIV near rest-frame wavelength 1550Å. (Figure 4 of “Multi-epoch observations of extremely high-velocity emergent broad absorption”, Rogerson, Hall, Hidalgo et al, MNRAS, 457, 405).

  • In April 2016 a team led by Jens Thomas (MPIE) including co-Is Nicholas McConnell and John Blakeslee (NRC Herzberg) announced the discovery of one of the most supermassive black holes ever detected (weighing 17 billion suns), residing in an unlikely place. The biggest SMBHs have been found at the cores of very large galaxies in the dense central regions of rich clusters. This black hole, however, lives in a rather isolated galaxy, NGC1600, lying in a cosmic backwater town (a small group of galaxies). The authors speculate that NGC1600’s black hole might have grown by cannibalizing its former neighboring galaxies and their central black holes in its youth. This research was published in Nature and the press release is available here.
  • Figure 5 -  DSS Image of NGC1600 , a massive elliptical galaxy,  residing in a small group of galaxies; with a close-up view of the galaxy shown in the inset image, which was taken with HST/NICMOS. At the heart of NGC 1600 lurks one of the most massive black holes ever detected, weighing 17 billion suns.(Credit: NASA, ESA, and C.-P. Ma (UC Berkeley).

    Figure 5 – DSS Image of NGC1600 , a massive elliptical galaxy, residing in a small group of galaxies; with a close-up view of the galaxy shown in the inset image, which was taken with HST/NICMOS. At the heart of NGC 1600 lurks one of the most massive black holes ever detected, weighing 17 billion suns.(Credit: NASA, ESA, and C.-P. Ma (UC Berkeley).

  • In April 2016 was also announced the discovery of an especially young, free-floating planet-like analogue to Jupiter in our neighborhood (92 light-years away). Kendra Kellogg and her supervisor Stanimir Metchev (Western University) used Flamingos2 to confirm that 2MASS J1119–1137 is a young object of only about 10 million years, with a mass estimate to be between 4.3 and 7.6 MJup. It is the lowest-mass and nearest isolated member of TW Hydrae at a kinematic distance of 28.9 +/- 3.6 pc, and the second-brightest isolated <10 MJup object discovered to date. The full press release can be found here. This is the first Canadian paper coming out of the Fast-Turnaround program.

Quelques stats du semestre 2016B

Après une récolte record de demandes reçues le semestre dernier en 2016A (le nombre total d’heures demandées a été un des plus impressionnant de toute l’histoire de Gemini au Canada), une récolte plus modeste, bien que toujours adéquate, de demandes Gemini a été reçu pour ce semestre 2016B. Gemini-Sud a été un peu plus sursouscrit à 1.65, comparé à Gemini-Nord à 1.53 (en utilisant le rapport entre le temps demandé sur la quantité de temps disponible dans les Bandes 1 et 2 au Canada; les heures disponibles dans les Bandes 1 + 2 correspondent au nombre d’heures effectivement observées pour les programmes canadiens chaque semestre, tandis que Bande 3 est un surremplissage de la queue).

Comme d’habitude, jusqu’à près de 40% des demandes ce semestre ont été pour des thèses d`étudiants MSc / PhD. Seule une poignée de demandes ToO ont été reçues (2 rapides et 2 standards). Aucune demande d’échange avec Subaru n`a été reçue ce semestre, ce qui arrive à l`occasion et n`est pas anormal.

Figure 1 - Sursouscription à Gemini-Nord (bleu) et Gemini-Sud (rouge).

Figure 1 – Sursouscription à Gemini-Nord (bleu) et Gemini-Sud (rouge).

Figure 2 - Nombre de demandes jointes, pour thèse, ToO et d`échange avec Subaru reçues dans les derniers semestres.

Figure 2 – Nombre de demandes jointes, pour thèse, ToO et d`échange avec Subaru reçues dans les derniers semestres.

Pour le semestre 2016B, plus de demandes ont été reçues pour GRACES (spectroscopie à haute résolution) que pour tout autre instrument, y compris GMOS-N et GMOS-S. Ceci est très rare et ce n`est arrivé qu`une seule fois auparavant qu’un instrument soit plus populaire que GMOS (Flamingos2 a réussi cet exploit une fois, il y a quelques semestres). Notez que les demandes de GRACES sont toutes pour des études galactiques jusqu’à présent, même si son excellente transmission permettrait de s’aventurer vers des cibles extragalactiques. À Gemini-Sud ce sont GMOS-S et Flamingos2 qui ont reçus le plus grand nombre de demandes. Sur le graphique de la Figure 3 qui montre le temps demandé pour chaque instrument, Phoenix (spectroscopie à haute résolution dans le proche-IR) prend une grande place, mais cela est entièrement dû à une seule grande demande qui a demandé 30% du temps offert à G-Sud.

Figure 3 - Camemberts des pourcentages de temps demandés pour chaque instrument,  à Gemini-Nord (à gauche) et Gemini-Sud (à droite).

Figure 3 – Camemberts des pourcentages de temps demandés pour chaque instrument, à Gemini-Nord (à gauche) et Gemini-Sud (à droite).

Nouvelles sur les manuels de réduction de données!

Les utilisateurs GMOS seront heureux de savoir que le très attendu “GMOS Data Reduction Cookbook” est maintenant disponible! Il est disponible ici. Il a été écrit par Dick Shaw, de l’ONG américain, incluant des ajouts du CGO. Il couvre tout, de comment démarrer dans iraf / pyraf jusqu`au traitement de chacun des modes de GMOS, y compris Nod & Shuffle et l`Unité Intégral de Champ. Il est facile à suivre, avec des commandes IRAF détaillées à chaque étape. Il énumère également d’excellentes ressources en ligne qui pourraient être utiles. S’il vous plaît assurez-vous d`y jeter un coup d`oeil et de nous envoyer vos commentaires ou ajouts.

Le prochain manuel, encore en chantier, sera pour GSOAI / GeMs. En attendant les utilisateurs peuvent vérifier les excellents tutoriels qui ont été présentés lors d`un mini-atelier OA au AAS de janvier en Floride pour aider les néophytes qui souhaitent poursuivre des programmes OA. En particulier veuillez consulter la présentation de Tim Davidge sur “AO 101: Setting up and characterizing observations of resolved stellar systems”, ici. Il y a aussi une excellente présentation couvrant les bases de l`OA par Claire Max (Université de Californie à Santa Cruz) sur “Adaptive Optics for Astronomers: The Basics”, ici, et un tutoriel plus avancé par Franck Marchis (SETI Institute) sur ” Processing and Data Analysis With AO instruments: Challenges and Perspectives”, ici.

Récents Communiqués de presse canadiens

  • En Mars 2016 a été annoncée la découverte de la raie d’absorption large de CIV de la plus haute vitesse vue à ce jour, dans le quasar SDSS J023011.28 + 005.913.6 à z=2.47. L`étude a été dirigée par Jesse Rogerson (Université York) dans le cadre de sa thèse avec son superviseur Patrick Hall (Université York), incluant les co-Is Paola Hildago & Patrik Pirkola (Université York). Environ un quart des quasars présentent de larges raies d`absorption décalées vers le bleu à des longueurs d’onde ultraviolettes. Ces caractéristiques sont le résultat de matériaux soulevés en-dehors du disque d’accrétion qui entoure le trou noir supermassif central et emportés au loin par le rayonnement du quasar, entraînant des vents à des vitesses élevées qui sont observées en absorption décalées vers le bleu. L’équipe a passé au crible des spectres SDSS pour sélectionner les 100 meilleurs nouveaux vents de quasars à inspecter avec GMOS. Ils ont découvert ce vent de 60 000 km/s, le plus rapide jamais vu. Ces vents de hautes vitesses aideront à contraindre les modèles théoriques d’accélération. Le communiqué de presse complet est disponible ici et l`article complet est ici.
  • Figure 4 - Trois spectres GMOS obtenus à différentes époques du quasar J0230 à z = 2.47  montrent la variabilité des raies d'absorption, en particulier CIV près de la longueur d'onde de 1550A. (Figure 4 de “Multi-epoch observations of extremely high-velocity emergent broad absorption”, Rogerson, Hall, Hidalgo et al, MNRAS, 457, 405).

    Figure 4 – TTrois spectres GMOS obtenus à différentes époques du quasar J0230 à z = 2.47 montrent la variabilité des raies d’absorption, en particulier CIV près de la longueur d’onde de 1550A. (Figure 4 de “Multi-epoch observations of extremely high-velocity emergent broad absorption”, Rogerson, Hall, Hidalgo et al, MNRAS, 457, 405).

  • En Avril 2016 une équipe dirigée par Jens Thomas (MPIE) incluant les co-Is Nicholas McConnell et John Blakeslee (CNRC Herzberg) a annoncé la découverte d’un des trous noirs les plus supermassifs jamais détectés (de la masse de 17 milliards de soleils), résidant dans un endroit inattendu. Les plus grands SMBHs ont été trouvés dans les noyaux de galaxies très massives dans les régions centrales denses d`amas riches. Ce trou noir, cependant, vit dans une galaxie assez isolé, NGC1600, cachée dans un recoin cosmique tranquile (un petit groupe de galaxies). Les auteurs supposent que le trou noir de NGC1600 aurait grossi en cannibalisant ses anciennes galaxies voisines et leurs trous noirs centraux dans sa jeunesse. Cette recherche a été publiée dans Nature et le communiqué de presse est disponible ici.
  • Figure 5 -  Image DSS de NGC1600, une galaxie elliptique massive résidant dans un petit groupe de galaxies; avec une vue rapprochée de la galaxie figurant dans l'image en médaillon, qui a été prise avec HST / NICMOS. Au cœur de NGC 1600 se cache l'un des trous noirs les plus massifs jamais détectés, de la masses de 17 milliards de soleils (Crédit:. NASA, ESA, et C.-P. Ma (UC Berkeley).

    Figure 5 – Image DSS de NGC1600, une galaxie elliptique massive résidant dans un petit groupe de galaxies; avec une vue rapprochée de la galaxie figurant dans l’image en médaillon, qui a été prise avec HST / NICMOS. Au cœur de NGC 1600 se cache l’un des trous noirs les plus massifs jamais détectés, de la masses de 17 milliards de soleils (Crédit:. NASA, ESA, et C.-P. Ma (UC Berkeley).

  • En Avril 2016 a été également annoncée la découverte d’un objet de type planétaire analogue à Jupiter et particulièrement jeune, flottant librement, et très proche (à 92 années-lumière). Kendra Kellogg et son superviseur Stanimir Metchev (Université Western) ont utilisé Flamingos2 pour confirmer que 2MASS J1119-1137 est un jeune objet de seulement environ 10 millions d’années, avec une estimation de masse se situant entre 4,3 et 7.6 MJup. Il est l`objet de plus faible masse et le plus proche membre isolé de TW Hydrae à une distance cinématique de 28,9 +/- 3,6 pc, et le deuxième plus brillant objet isolé de masse <10 MJup découvert à ce jour. Le communiqué de presse complet se trouve ici. Ceci est le premier article canadien issu du programme Fast Turnaround.

NRC Herzberg News/Nouvelles du CNRC Herzberg

From/de Dennis Crabtree (NRC-Herzberg)
with contributions from/avec des contributions de Lewis Knee & Chris Willott

(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

La version française suit

These reports will appear in each issue of Cassiopeia with the goal of informing the Canadian astronomical community on the activities at NRC Herzberg.

Feedback is welcome from community members about how NRC Herzberg is doing in fulfilling our mandate to “operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada” (NRC Act).

Canadian Time Allocation Committee (CanTAC)

CanTAC met in May at McGill in Montreal to discuss and rank CFHT and Gemini proposals for semester 2016B. The CanTAC SuperChair for this meeting was Scott Chapman (Dalhousie), while the Galactic panel chair was Stanimir Metchev (Western) and the Extragalactic panel chair was Alan McConnachie (NRC Herzberg). Dennis Crabtree continues to serve as the technical secretary.

The full list of CanTAC members for the November meeting was:

Galactic Extragalactic
Laurent Drissen (Laval) Peter Capak (Caltech)
Christopher Johns-Krull (Rice) Scott Chapman (Dalhousie)
Stanimir Metchev (Western) Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo (Montreal)
Leslie Rogers (Caltech) Alan McConnachie (Herzberg)
Samar Safi-Harb (Manitoba) Eric Steinbring (NRC)
Ingrid Stairs (UBC) Ludo van Waerbake (UBC)
Peter Stetson (Herzberg)

For Semester 2016B CanTAC received 29 CFHT proposals (13 Galactic and 16 Extragalactic) and 25 Gemini proposals (11 Galactic and 14 Extragalactic). There was a total of 538 hours requested on CFHT and 371 hours on Gemini. The subscription rates were 2.15 for CFHT, 2.6 for Gemini North and 3.2 for Gemini South.

The demand for both telescopes increased significantly from the last semester although the trend of receiving more Galactic than Extragalactic proposals continues.

Millimetre Instrumentation Group Update

The Millimetre Instrumentation Group (MIG) at NRC Herzberg in Victoria is involved in a number of technical developments for centimetre- to millimetre-wavelength astronomy.


Support of the ALMA Band 3 (84 to 116 GHz) suite of receivers continues. The Band 3 cartridges are proving to be reliable and robust – significantly fewer receiver cartridges are returning to Victoria than originally anticipated. Recently, MIG delivered the first cartridge to Chile upgraded with magnetic field-defluxing heaters. Initial test results look promising, and a continuing series of noise temperature and power stability measurements is ongoing in order to confirm enhanced performance of the upgraded cartridge.

The ALMA Board has approved the Band 1 development project to go into cartridge production after a successful critical design review in Taipei. The Band 1 project is led by the East Asian ALMA partner. NRC Herzberg is contributing the Band 1 orthomode transducers (OMTs), passive waveguide structures which separate the two orthogonal linearly polarized components of the incoming signal before mixing and sideband separation.

Low Noise Amplifiers

Cryogenic low noise amplifiers (LNAs) are at the heart of radio receivers, and are one of the critical components which determine the overall sensitivity of the system. NRC Herzberg is at the forefront of radio astronomy LNA design. MIG has designed LNAs to be used in the 64-antenna South African meerKAT array, an SKA precursor instrument. In L-band (900 – 1670 MHz), our LNAs deliver high gain and stable performance while adding only ~ 2.5 K to the system noise temperature. A prototype meerKAT L-band receiver incorporating our LNAs recently tested on NRC’s DVA1 antenna in Penticton has confirmed a world-beating total receiver noise of only 6 K. NRC’s UHF-band (580 – 1015 MHz) meerKAT LNAs have a noise temperature of only ~ 1.0 K.

Cryogenic Phased Array Feeds

Figure 1 - Cutaway view of the NRC Herzberg cryogenic PAF.

Figure 1 – Cutaway view of the NRC Herzberg cryogenic PAF.

A number of groups worldwide are working on the development of phased array feed (PAF) receivers, which have the potential to outperform conventional single-pixels feeds in radio mapping if (among other factors), good sensitivity can be achieved. Designing and constructing efficient PAFs is a real challenge, and both lower-frequency (L-band, ~ 1.4 GHz) uncooled PAFs and higher-frequency (2.8 – 5.2 GHz) cryogenic PAFs are under development at NRC Herzberg in Penticton and Victoria respectively. The MIG’s cryogenic PAF is in an advanced stage of design with the construction and integration of component parts scheduled to begin this year. It is hoped that the completed PAF will attain very low-noise performance of ~ 10 K and thus demonstrate that PAFs can compete with single-pixel receivers in this frequency range.

In Figure 1, the 140-element array of dual-linear Vivaldi antennas at top is below a hemispherical radome. The 96 interior elements (gold) are active with a surrounding "guard ring" of inactive elements. The array of LNAs (partially obscured) lies directly below the antenna array and the coaxial lines extend downward and eventually out of the dewar. Note that in reality the coaxial lines will not be straight but will have bends to allow for thermal contraction when cooled to 16 K. The antenna array has an overall diameter of 31 cm.

JWST Update

Figure 2 - A rare view of the James Webb Space Telescope face-on in the Goddard clean room (May 2016).

Figure 2 – A rare view of the James Webb Space Telescope face-on in the Goddard clean room (May 2016).

Critical hardware of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has come together in the last six months. The gold-coated primary segments, secondary and tertiary mirrors are installed onto the telescope structure. The science instruments emerged in excellent health from their final cryo-vacuum test and are mounted into the cavity behind the telescope. The whole telescope will undergo a series of environmental tests at Goddard Space Flight Center before heading to Johnson Space Center for final cryo-vacuum testing next year. Manufacturing of the sunshield and spacecraft also continue to make good progress with the schedule still being for launch in October 2018.

The Cycle 1 Call For Proposals is planned to be issued in late 2017 and many in the community are starting to make plans for how they will use the telescope. The Université de Montréal will host the conference “Exploring the Universe with JWST – II” the week of 24th to 28th October 2016. The idea of the conference is to give the astronomical community opportunities to present, highlight and discuss scientific programs that will be made possible by JWST. We hope to see many Canadians at the conference. Register here by 15th July.

In May 2016, NRC Herzberg Victoria hosted a meeting of all the JWST Guaranteed Time Observer (GTO) teams. There were about 80 attendees representing all the instrument teams and scientists with GTO allocations. The goal of the meeting was to coordinate the various science programs to make the most effective use of the observatory and provide feedback on the observation implementation process. The meeting was very successful and there is a high level of collaboration and coordination between the teams.

Les rubriques qui suivent reviendront dans chaque numéro du bulletin et ont pour but de tenir les astronomes canadiens au courant des activités de CNRC Herzberg.

Les commentaires des astronomes sur la manière dont CNRC Herzberg accomplit sa mission, c’est-à-dire « assurer le fonctionnement et la gestion des observatoires astronomiques mis sur pied ou exploités par l’État canadien » (Loi sur le CNRC), sont les bienvenus.

Comité canadien d’attribution de temps (CanTAC)

Les membres du CanTAC se sont réunis en mai à l’Université McGill à Montréal afin de discuter des propositions soumises pour le TCFH et l’observatoire Gemini pour le semestre 2016B, et les classer. Le super-président du CanTAC pour la réunion était Scott Chapman (Dalhousie), alors que le Groupe galactique était présidé par Stanimir Metchev (Western) et le Groupe extragalactique, par Alan McConnachie (CNRC Herzberg). Dennis Crabtree continue d’assumer le rôle de secrétaire technique.

Voici la liste complète des membres de CanTAC présents à la réunion de novembre:

Groupe galactique Groupe extragalactique
Laurent Drissen (Laval) Peter Capak (Caltech)
Christopher Johns-Krull (Rice) Scott Chapman (Dalhousie)
Stanimir Metchev (Western) Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo (Montreal)
Leslie Rogers (Caltech) Alan McConnachie (Herzberg)
Samar Safi-Harb (Manitoba) Eric Steinbring (NRC)
Ingrid Stairs (UBC) Ludo van Waerbake (UBC)
Peter Stetson (Herzberg)

Pour le semestre 2016B, CanTAC a reçu 29 propositions pour le TCFH (13 du Groupe galactique et 16 du Groupe extragalactique) ainsi que 25 propositions pour l’observatoire Gemini (11 du Groupe galactique et 14 du Groupe extragalactique). Au total, les candidats sollicitaient 538 heures d’observation au TCFH et 371 pour Gemini. Les taux d’adhésion étaient de 2,15 pour le TCFH, de 2,6 pour Gemini Nord et de 3,2 pour Gemini Sud.

Depuis le dernier semestre, la demande de temps d’observation aux deux télescopes a augmenté de façon importante, et ce, bien que la tendance à recevoir plus de propositions du Groupe galactique que du Groupe extragalactique persiste toujours.

Mise à jour du Groupe d’instrumentation millimétrique

Le Groupe d’instrumentation millimétrique de CNRC Herzberg à Victoria prend part à un certain nombre de développements techniques pour l’astronomie à ondes centimétriques et millimétriques.


L’appui apporté à la gamme de récepteurs de bande 3 de l’ALMA (84 – 116 GHz) continue. Les cartouches du récepteur de bande 3 se révèlent fiables et robustes : beaucoup moins de cartouches sont retournées à Victoria que prévu au départ. Le Groupe a récemment expédié vers le Chili la première cartouche qu’on a améliorée en lui ajoutant des radiateurs magnétiques pour l’enlèvement de flux. Les premiers résultats semblent prometteurs, et une série continue de mesures de la température de bruit et de la stabilité de puissance est en cours pour confirmer l’augmentation de la performance de la cartouche améliorée.

Le conseil d’administration de l’ALMA a donné le feu vert à la production de cartouches dans le cadre du projet de développement de bande 1, après que le composant a passé avec succès l’examen conceptuel critique à Taipei. Le projet bande 1 est dirigé par le partenaire est-asiatique de l’ALMA. CNRC Herzberg fournit les jonctions orthomodes pour la bande 1, des structures de guide d’ondes passives qui séparent les deux composants orthogonaux polarisés linéairement du signal entrant avant de les mélanger et de les séparer en bandes latérales.

Amplificateurs à faible bruit (AFB)

Les amplificateurs à faible bruit cryogéniques sont au cœur des récepteurs de radio et représentent l’un des composants critiques qui déterminent la sensibilité générale du système. CNRC Herzberg est le chef de file en matière de conception d’amplificateurs à faible bruit pour la radioastronomie. Le Groupe d’instrumentation millimétrique a conçu des AFB destinés au réseau sud-africain de 64 antennes meerKAT, un instrument précurseur du radiotélescope du « Réseau d’un kilomètre carré ». Dans la bande L (900 – 1670 MHz), nos AFB produisent un rendement stable de haut gain en ajoutant seulement ~ 2,5 K à la température de bruit du système. Un récepteur prototype meerKAT pour bande L qui comprend les AFB récemment testés sur l’antenne DVA1 du CNRC à Penticton confirme un bruit de récepteur total, le meilleur au monde, de seulement 6 K. Les AFB meerKAT utilisant la bande à ultra-haute fréquence (580 – 1015 MHz) du CNRC enregistrent une température de bruit d’environ 1 K seulement.

Sources d’alimentation de réseaux phasés cryogéniques

Figure 1 - Vue transversale des sources d’alimentation phasées cryogéniques du CNRC.

Figure 1 – Cutaway view of the NRC Herzberg cryogenic PAF.

Un certain nombre de groupes dans le monde travaillent à développer des récepteurs pour les sources d’alimentation phasées, qui ont le potentiel de faire meilleure figure que les antennes à pixel unique ordinaires pour la cartographie radio si (entre autres facteurs), une bonne sensibilité peut être obtenue. Les sources d’alimentation de réseaux phasés à fréquence inférieure (bande L, ~ 1,4 GHz) non refroidies et celles à fréquence supérieure (2,8 – 5,2 GHz) cryogéniques sont en cours d’élaboration à CNRC Herzberg à Penticton et à Victoria respectivement; leur conception et leur fabrication sont un réel défi. La source d’alimentation de réseaux phasés cryogéniques du Groupe d’instrumentation millimétrique a atteint un stade avancé de conception. La fabrication et l’intégration des composants devraient commencer cette année. On espère que les sources d’alimentation phasées définitives offriront un rendement à faibles émissions sonores (~10 K), ce qui pourrait démontrer qu’elles peuvent rivaliser avec les récepteurs à pixel unique dans cette gamme de fréquence.

Dans la Figure 1, le réseau de 140 éléments d’antennes Vivaldi linéaires doubles est situé tout au haut sous un radôme hémisphérique. Les 96 éléments intérieurs (en or) sont actifs, entourés d’un anneau de garde d’éléments inactifs. L’éventail d’amplificateurs à faible bruit (partiellement masqués) se trouve directement sous le réseau d’antennes; les câbles coaxiaux s’étendent vers le bas et éventuellement à l’extérieur du dewar. En fait, les câbles coaxiaux ne seront pas déployés en ligne droite : ils seront courbés afin de compenser la contraction thermique au moment du refroidissement à 16 K. Le diamètre de l’antenne réseau mesure 31 cm.

Mise à jour du télescope spatial James Webb

Figure 2 - Rare cliché de face du télescope spatial James Webb dans la salle blanche du centre spatial Goddard (mai 2016).

Figure 2 – A rare view of the James Webb Space Telescope face-on in the Goddard clean room (May 2016).

Des composants essentiels du télescope spatial James Webb ont été regroupés au cours des six derniers mois. Les sections du miroir primaire, recouvertes d’une couche d’or, et les miroirs secondaire et tertiaire sont fixés à l’armature du télescope. Les instruments scientifiques sont ressortis en parfaite condition du récent essai cryogénique sous vide; ils sont installés dans la cavité derrière le télescope. L’ensemble du télescope fera l’objet d’une série de tests environnementaux au Goddard Space Flight Center avant d’être expédié au Johnson Space Center afin de subir, l’an prochain, les derniers tests cryogéniques sous vide. La fabrication d’un pare-soleil et d’un engin spatial continue d’avancer à bon rythme; le lancement est toujours prévu pour octobre 2018.

L’appel de propositions du cycle 1 est prévu pour la fin de 2017. Plusieurs membres de la communauté commencent à planifier la façon dont ils utiliseront le télescope. Du 24 au 28 octobre 2016, l’Université de Montréal accueillera la conférence « Explorer l’univers avec le télescope spatial James Webb – II ». L’optique de la conférence est de donner à la communauté des astronomes l’occasion de présenter, de souligner et de discuter des programmes scientifiques qui seront rendus possibles par le télescope. Nous espérons que beaucoup de Canadiens assisteront à la conférence. Pour vous inscrire, visitez d’ici le 15 juillet.

En mai 2016, CNRC Herzberg à Victoria a organisé une réunion de toutes les équipes disposant de temps d’observation garanti au télescope spatial James Webb. Environ 80 participants ont pris part à cette réunion. Ils représentent les scientifiques et les équipes d’instruments possédant des attributions de temps d’observation garanti. L’objectif de la réunion était de coordonner les divers programmes scientifiques pour utiliser l’observatoire le plus efficacement possible et de fournir de la rétroaction sur le processus de mise en œuvre du temps d’observation. La réunion a connu un franc succès, et les équipes ont fait preuve d’un niveau élevé de collaboration et de coordination.

President’s Report

By Bob Abraham, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

Well, this is my first President’s Message, and even though I’ve only been in the job for ten days, it’s been enough time to learn two things:

(1) Many things that Chris Wilson made look effortless are hard work! We all owe her our thanks.

(2) Being the President of CASCA is like getting dropped into the deep end of the pool. In the last ten days I’ve met with the ACURA Board and Council, worked with the JCSA and the LRPIC committees to define a strategy for moving forward on the space-based component of the plan crafted by the MTR panel, crafted a letter to the CSA’s Space Advisory Board, and have begun working with my Coalition for Astronomy Co-Chairs to devise a stategic plan for communicating our message to the Canadian Government. That message will contain the story of our community’s many successes, relay our ambitious goals for the future, and make clear how we give back to Canada in a myriad number of ways.

CASCA is a wonderful community and it’s an honour to serve you all. Our work together is made infinitely easier because of the hard-working and dedicated members of the society that do things like serve on the CASCA board and on its many committees, and because so many people pull together to organize and run national meetings. A big thank you to you all, and I look forward to serving you for the next two years.

Past-President’s Report


From/de Christine Wilson
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2016)

Hi, everyone,

I have recently returned from the 2016 CASCA meeting in Winnipeg, which was a big success! The prize winning talks were uniformly excellent. Chris Pritchet (Beals Award) gave a comprehensive talk on the progenitors of Type IA supernovae that extended from the 1993 calibration of the stretch factor that allows these objects to be used as standard candles to very recent work suggesting that single degenerate binaries are likely not the progenitors. Peter Stetson (Dunlap Award) regaled us with a historical overview of photometry, starting with the first “computers” up to his current massive and impressive “Homogeneous Photometry Project”, punctuated by periodic questions for the audience of “Who under the age of 50 knows [xxx]?” and including props such as a photographic plate and (if memory serves) a piece of a photoelectric photometer. Jaymie Matthews (Qilak Award) gave an entertaining talk on his various outreach activities, including a collaboration with a shadow puppeteer and Science 101 for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community. Jonathan Gagné (Plaskett Medal) described his major proper motion survey to search for young brown dwarfs in nearby moving groups by combining the WISE and 2MASS near-infrared surveys and using Bayesian analysis to prioritize targets for follow-up observations.

A highlight for many of us was the banquet talk by Wilfred Buck from the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre on Ininew (Cree) constellations and the legends around them. CASCA’s new Diversity and Inclusivity Committee organized a special plenary session that was very well attended where participants were led to consider various scenarios around these issues and possible ways to act and respond. The public lecture was given by the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Professor A. McDonald, who spoke about the building and research with SNO, future research plans with SNO-lab, and what it is like to be in Stockholm during prize week. And of course the meeting was filled with contributed talks, special invited talks, and time for looking at posters. I want to congratulate the winners of the 2016 student presentation awards: best talk was won by Fraser Evans (McMaster University) for his talk “Red Misfit Galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey” and best poster was won by Nicholas Fantin (Queen’s University) for his poster “Identifying Halo White Dwarfs within the NGBS Field”.

In other news, John Hutchings of NRC-Herzberg was presented with the John H. Chapman Award of Excellence from the Canadian Space Agency in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the Canadian Space Program. The award was presented in a ceremony at the 17th Conference on Astronautics of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI ASTRO 2016) in Ottawa, Ontario. John has led Canada’s participation in landmark missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope on India’s ASTROSAT. The fact that he was able to lead so many major projects to fruition while maintaining excellent relations with international partners and a highly productive research career, is testimony to his skills, passion and perseverance. Congratulations to John on this award!

The report of the Mid-Term Review panel has been finished and released in electronic form to the community. The first draft of the French translation has been received and so we should be proceeding to print hard copies of the report very soon. I want to thank the chair of the MTR panel, Rob Thacker, and all the MTR panel members for all their time and effort to put together this excellent report. The Long Range Plan Implementation Committee has developed a 2-page summary of the report that is available for use in outreach to politicians, senior university administrators, and others who may not wish to read the whole report. The two-page summary is available in both English and French in the Long Range Plan area of the CASCA web site.

The Coalition for Canadian Astronomy has continued our outreach efforts with the new Federal Government with a letter to all new and returning MPs congratulating them on their election and introducing them to our community and Long Range Plan.

As I described in an earlier report, the Westar Lectureship is being re-instated under the guidance of the Education and Public Outreach Committee and the CASCA Board. The aim is to have the first Westar Lecture held this fall, possibly in the Yukon. Keep an eye on your inbox for information on how to apply to be a Westar Lecturer or nominate another excellent public speaker.

For updates on the various facilities that our community is involved in, such as TMT, SKA, and WFIRST, please see the committee reports on the CASCA web site or other articles in this issue.

Finally, as out-going President, I would like to thank the members of the CASCA Board and also all the CASCA committee members for their hard work on behalf of our community. I look forward to supporting our new President, Bob Abraham, and to working with the new Vice-President, Rob Thacker, and our two new Directors, Kristine Spekkens and Erik Rosolowsky.

Have a great summer!
Chris Wilson

2015 Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach

CASCA is pleased to announce Mr. Paul Delaney from York University as the recipient of the 2015 Qilak award.

Mr. Delaney was an active member of the Canberra Astronomical Society in his native Australia before obtaining his MSc in Astronomy at the University of Victoria in 1981. He became the Observatory Coordinator at York University in 1986, where he has also been the Director of the Division of Natural Science since 2002.

For Mr. Delaney’s infectious enthusiasm and tireless advocacy for astronomical outreach has spanned several decades. Charged with ensuring access for York physics students in his role as observatory coordinator, Mr. Delaney went one step further and built a thriving public outreach program that welcomes over 5,000 visitors to the observatory annually and a weekly YorkUniverse global radio audience of 30,000. Mr. Delaney’s face and name are also ubiquitous on Canadian media when there is a major sky event, with near-weekly appearances with major news outlets. Mr. Delaney has been an active member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) throughout his long career, and is currently the second vice-president of the RASC Toronto Centre. Mr. Delaney has received several awards for his sustained and enthusiastic service promoting astronomy, including the 2010 Sandford Fleming Medal, a Top-10 lecturer in TV Ontario’s 2005 “Best Lecture” competition, and both Faculty of Science and University-wide teaching awards at York.

Please join CASCA in thanking Mr. Delaney for his selfless dedication to improving public understanding and appreciation of science and astronomy.