Phosphorus in the Young Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A

An international team of astronomers, including Prof. Dae-Sik Moon at the University of Toronto, has measured for the first time the abundance of phosphorus created in a supernova explosion.

The team’s observational results show that phosphorus is 100 times more abundant in the remains left over from a supernova than elsewhere in the galaxy, confirming that massive exploding stars are the crucibles in which the element is created.

Astronomers have measured the abundance of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur in supernovae remnants before. But this is the first measurement of the relatively scarce phosphorus.

“These five elements are essential to life and can only be created in massive stars,” says Moon, co-author of the paper being published in the journal Science on December 13, 2013.

“They are scattered throughout our galaxy when the star explodes, and they become part of other stars, planets and ultimately, humans,” says Moon. “This is why Carl Sagan said we are made of ‘starstuff’. Now we have measured how much of this particular element of starstuff is created in supernovae.”

Moon is in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the U of T. Other members of the research team include lead author Bon-Chul Koo, Yong Hyun Lee and Sung-Chul Yoon of Seoul National University in Korea, and John Raymond of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The observations were of the remnant of a supernova believed to have been observed over 300 years ago. Called Cassiopeia A (Cas A), it lies at a distance of about 11,000 light-years.

Astronomers believe the original star was between 15 and 25 times the mass of the Sun. When a star of such mass runs out of the hydrogen that it burns to produce energy, the core of the star goes through a sequence of collapses, synthesizing heavier elements with each collapse.

Moon and his colleagues made their observations using the TripleSpec near-infrared spectrograph on the Palomar 5-metre Hale telescope. The instrument—which Moon co-developed—allowed the team to directly compare the spectral lines of phosphorus and iron and, thus, calculate the abundance ratio of the two.

Carl Sagan knew that this starstuff is the “…the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood.” Now, Moon and his colleagues have directly measured the starstuff that is the phosphorus in our DNA and our bones.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Prof. Dae-Sik Moon
Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
e: moon@astro.utoronto.ca
p: 416-978-6566
http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/~moon

Chris Sasaki
Public Information Officer
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
e: csasaki@dunlap.utoronto.ca
p: 416-978-6613

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto, continues the legacy of the David Dunlap Observatory: by developing innovative astronomical instrumentation, including for the largest, most advanced telescopes in the world; by training the next generation of astronomers; and by fostering public engagement in science. The research of its faculty and postdoctoral fellows includes the discovery of exoplanets, the formation of stars, galactic nuclei, the evolution and nature of galaxies, the early Universe and the Cosmic Microwave Background, and the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Special Instructions: For image for splash page, visit http://dunlap.utoronto.ca/for-the-media/downloads/ Password: CasA

Dunlap Award for Innovation in Astronomical Research Tools (October 30, 2013)

The Canadian Astronomical Society is pleased to announce the establishment of a new Award, the Dunlap Award for Innovation in Astronomical Research Tools.

The Dunlap Award is made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto.

The award will be presented in even-numbered years to an individual or team for the design, invention, or improvement of instrumentation or software that has enabled significant advances in astronomy. The nominee, or leader of a nominated team, shall be a member of CASCA and a Canadian astronomer or an astronomer working in Canada.

Nominations for the 2014 Dunlap Award are sollicited at this time and can be tended until 15 January 2015. Details can be found on the Dunlap Award page on the CASCA website: https://casca.ca/?page_id=2724.

In June 2014, CASCA will present the inaugural Dunlap Award at the society’s annual meeting in Quebec City.

 
Contacts:
 
Leslie Sage
CASCA press officer
cascapressofficer@gmail.com
+1 301 675 8957

Chris Sasaki
Communications and New Media Specialist
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
50 St. George Street
Toronto, Canada
M5S 3H4
csasaki@dunlap.utoronto.ca
416 978 6613

Professor Christine Wilson is Elected to the Royal Society of Canada (Sept. 9, 2013)

This is an official CASCA Press Release.

It is with great pleasure that the Canadian Astronomical Society / Societe Canadienne d’Astronomie recognizes and applauds the election of Dr. Christine Wilson of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, to the Royal Society of Canada.

As Canada’s senior National Academy, the RSC exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both of Canada’s official languages, to mentor young scholars and artists, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations, and Canadians generally on matters of public interest (http://rsc-src.ca/en/about-us/our-purpose/mandate-mission-and-vision).

Christine received her PhD in astronomy at Caltech in 1990 and moved to McMaster University in 1992. She has been the Canadian project scientist for ALMA since 1999 and is currently the principal investigator of three international projects: the Herschel Very Nearby Galaxies Survey, the JCMT Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey, and the SMA Luminous Infrared Galaxies Survey.

Contacts:
Leslie Sage
CASCA Press Officer
+1 (301) 675 8957
cascapressofficer@gmail.com

Laura Ferrarese
CASCA President
casca-president@casca.ca

Christine Wilson
wilson@physics.mcmaster.ca

CASCA Twitter Account (Sept. 19, 2013)

The new CASCA Twitter account (@AstroCanada) went live on September 19, 2013. Unlike most corporate Twitter accounts, the CASCA one is run by actual CASCA members. Each week, a new CASCA member will be given the keys and the opportunity to tweet about their work, observing trips, conferences and general life as an astronomer. More information and guidelines are available on the CASCA webpages. If you would like to take over the CASCA Twitter account for a week, please email Dennis Crabtree (Dennis.Crabtree@nrc.ca).

Scientific Authorities Sign the TMT Master Agreement (July 25, 2013)

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project announces today that all of the scientific authorities of the TMT partners have signed a Master Agreement. The Master Agreement document establishes a formal agreement amongst the international parties defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.

TMT is a unique and vibrant collaboration among universities in the United States with institutions in the nations of Canada, China, India and Japan, and with major funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Uniting these various parties under a Master Agreement stands as a significant accomplishment for TMT as a scientific endeavor with global reach.

“The signing of this Master Agreement marks a major milestone in the official commitment to and formalization of this global collaboration, ensuring that the TMT project is on schedule and progressing smoothly,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT Collaborative Board. “We have been working towards this moment for a long time and this is a special day for astronomy’s next-generation observatory.”

The Master Agreement brings together the TMT partners for the purpose of developing, designing, financing, constructing, commissioning, operating and decommissioning a next-generation, thirty meter-class astronomical observatory.

“We are pleased with this vote of confidence from the scientific authorities,” said Edward Stone, Vice Chair of the TMT Board. “Their signing of this Master Agreement is a key endorsement of TMT’s scientific merits as well as the project’s overall implementation plan.”

Looking ahead, the next step will be for the financial authorities of the partners to similarly sign the document and finalize the funding plan.

“With the scientific authorities now all on board, we welcome and look forward to the critical support of the remaining financial authorities in advancing the TMT project,” said Yang.

2013 has been a busy and successful year for TMT, and the signing of the Master Agreement is a major step forward in the creation of a revolutionary astronomical facility. Construction of TMT is planned to begin in April 2014 and TMT is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2022 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Signatories of the Master Agreement:

The signatories of the Master Agreement are: Donald E. Brooks, Chair of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) Institutional Council; Jean-Lou Chameau, President of the California Institute of Technology; Masahiko Hayashi, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ); Dr. P. Sreekumar, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics; Jun Yan, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) and Mark Yudof, President of the University of California.

Statements from TMT Partners:

“ACURA is pleased to be a partner in signing the Master Agreement as Scientific Authority, and is currently engaged with the National Research Council to discuss moving the project forward for funding in Canada. TMT will be a vital resource for research in Canadian universities. It will deepen our knowledge of many of the major issues in astronomy & astrophysics in ways that would not be possible without such a new generation telescope,” said Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA).

“China is excited to be an active partner of such a world-leading facility, which represents a quantum leap for our community. With yet another major step taken, we look forward to many decades of solving the mysteries of the cosmos from Mauna Kea,” said Jun Yan, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

”We are delighted to start contribution to make this scientific enterprise a reality. We believe TMT and Subaru will be a good match to explore many key riddles of the Universe,” said Prof. Masahiko Hayashi, the Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

“TMT-India is extremely happy to participate in the joint signing of the TMT Master Agreement. It is an important milestone in our global endeavor to raise astronomical observations to a new level with the promise of exciting science. With a large number of young students and researchers in our growing academic program, the Indian astronomical community sees the complete realization of the TMT project as an important stimulus to astrophysics research programs in India. We look forward to jointly addressing the next milestone in this program,” said Dr. P. Sreekumar, Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system. Visit us at Moore.org or follow @MooreScientific.

About TMT:

TMT is the next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2022 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. TMT is a collaboration of the California Institute of Technology, University of California, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a consortium of Chinese institutions led by the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and institutions in India supported by the Department of Science and Technology of India. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. For more information, visit tmt.org , www.facebook.com/TMTHawaii or follow @TMTHawaii.

TMT Media contact:

Gordon K. Squires
TMT Communications & Outreach Lead
squires@tmt.org
626-216-4257

President’s Report (June 15, 2013)

 

Hello everyone,

since I wrote my last report two months ago, I have had the opportunity to attend three meetings that are directly relevant to the strategic planning for Canadian astronomy. Two of these meetings focused specifically on CFHT: the ngCFHT workshop, which took place in Hilo, HI, on March 27-29, 2013, and the triennial CFHT Users’ Meeting, held in Campbell River on May 6-8.  The third meeting was, of course, the 2013 CASCA AGM, which took place on the campus of the University of British Columbia on May 28-30. The following reflects my notes and impressions from these meetings.

 

The Future of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope

CFHT is at a crossroad. Until now, the telescope has maintained world-wide competitiveness – in spite of its modest size in a landscape dominated by 8m class facilities – thanks to its wide-field imaging capabilities. This is changing. HyperSupremeCam (HSC) at Subaru outperforms MegaCam by an order of magnitude in exposure time and 10% to 15% in image quality. DECam, now in full operation at the 4m Blanco telescope, boasts nearly 4 times MegaCam’s field of view. PanSTARRS 1+2 and, especially, LSST (on track for a 2014 start of construction) will eventually completely dominate the wide-field imaging game. These facilities will be game changers. Dome venting (which is underway) and/or upgrades in MegaCam detectors (which have been proposed) will keep the CFHT competitive in the near term, but, in my view, do not represent CFHT’s long-term future.

At the CFHT Users’ Meeting, the Director, Doug Simons, laid out a three-step plan for the telescope: 1) implement new capabilities to keep CFHT competitive in the very near-term; 2) expand the existing partnership; and 3) transform the telescope into a new facility.

Proposals for new capabilities for CFHT will be tended in August 2013, and a selection will be made in late fall/winter. Upgrades to the MegaCam and/or ESPaDOnS detectors, the purchase of narrow-band filters for MegaCam, a 4D Superconducting MKID Camera, and upgrades to the Pueo AO system are some of the ideas floated at the meeting. Before then, we can look forward to SITELLE, an imaging Fourier transform spectrometer with an 11’×11’ field of view and wavelength range between 350 and 850 nm. SITELLE is scheduled to be delivered at the telescope this summer, and will be offered on a shared risk basis in 2014A.

Doug made it clear that the future of CFHT must proceed through expansion of the current consortium with a view towards exploiting the strengths and synergies of the existing facilities on Mauna Kea. CFHT has been working towards this goal for several years already, with Brazil, China, Korea and Taiwan currently buying nights on the telescope. Doug announced that China has expressed an interest of becoming a full partner. This opens an exciting possibility, since the additional funding could be used to cover the operating costs for UKIRT, which is looking for a new owner to take over after September 30, 2013. The advantages are obvious, not least the fact that if (when) CFHT is redeveloped, UKIRT could provide needed telescope access to the Canadian optical community while the CFHT site is under construction.

Which brings us to point 3) in Doug’s presentation. Currently the only proposed long-term future for CFHT is ngCFHT: a 10m telescope, to be built on the existing CFHT pier, equipped with a highly multiplexed, wide field, medium to high resolution spectrograph. The project is proposing to start redeveloping the site in late 2017, with first light expected in ~2021. At both the Users’ meeting, and at the ngCFHT workshop, the case was made by numerous speakers that such facility would outperform all existing or planned wide-field spectroscopic instruments, including BigBoss, AAT/Hermes, VISTA/4MOST, and VLT/MOONS. I was mostly impressed by the diversity of the science cases ngCFHT can address: from exoplanets to cosmology, and everything in between (see http://www.ngcfht.org/science-study for a partial list).

The ngCFHT workshop was attended by close to 100 participants from Canada, France, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the US, many of whom not directly associated with the feasibility study for the project. Although there is no question that the scientific enthusiasm behind ngCFHT is significant, funding is an issue (the cost estimate is ~$200M, to be divided amongst all partners), and of course it remains to be seen whether ngCFHT will remain the only route forward, or whether other ideas will emerge. But one thing is certain: we must act soon – now – or we risk being left behind in the burgeoning field of wide-field spectroscopic surveys.

 

The CASCA Annual General Meeting

The 2013 CASCA AGM took place on the campus of the University of British Columbia on May 28-30. The scientific level of the meeting was very high – with many excellent talks and posters on topics from exoplanets to stellar chronology to the recent Planck results. Presentations were made on future facilities, including SKA, SPICA, CCAT, the Artic Telescope and ngCFHT (TMT was, regrettably, absent), as well as current facilities, in particular JCMT, ALMA, Gemini and CFHT; a lunch discussion focused on the implementation of the LRP and generated some interesting discussion about the future of CFHT and Space Astronomy projects (slides can be found on the LRP Implementation committee webpage. Additionally, I would like to remind everyone that the latest reports from all CASCA committees, containing several statements relevant to the issues discussed here, are posted on the Committee pages on the CASCA website).

In terms of current ground-based facilities, with the exception of ALMA, the outlook is not especially positive. The STFC Council will cease operational support for JCMT on September 30, 2014; consequently, JCMT, like UKIRT, is looking for a new owner, and a Prospectus is expected to be released this summer. As for Gemini, the director Markus Kissler-Patig reported some good news (Flamingos2 has now been installed at Gemini South and is undergoing commissioning, while GPI will be delivered later this summer) but also spoke of a significant (20%) budget cut. In spite of this, Gemini is taking steps to ensure its competitiveness: Markus outlined a plan that facilitates the use of visiting instruments; operationally, the SAC and Board are considering a proposal to allocate 20% of the telescope time to Large Projects (a good idea, in my opinion, as mounting large observing campaigns at Gemini is almost impossible under the current multi-national TAC structure).

At the “business meeting” the membership approved CASCA’s Ethics Statement as well as the new amended by-laws required to comply with the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. There are two important changes in the new by-laws (which have not yet been submitted but are expected to take effect within the next year). The first is a change in the structure of the CASCA Executive. The 1st and 2nd vice presidents (now serving a one-year term) will be replaced by a single vice-president, serving for two years. To compensate, the number of directors will be increased from three to four. The second change is in the mechanism to select new Board members. While the Nominating Committee will continue to propose nominees, volunteers will be solicited from the community well in advance of the Committee deliberations.

Finally, it was announced that the 2014 CASCA Meeting will be hosted by Université Laval and take place in downtown Québec City on June 8-11. Two bids to host the 2015 meeting have been received and are being considered.

 

Additional Activities

Since the last report, there has been a new development concerning the review process of NSERC Discovery Grants. In the 2012-2013 competition, none of the six astronomers serving on the panel was working at a Canadian Institution (five worked in the US, one in France). This is of obvious concern. The CASCA Board has been in communication with NSERC on this issue; copies of all correspondence can be found in the CASCA Board webpage. The Canadian Association of Physics (CAP) has also been informed. At this time, the situation is not yet resolved.

A second development concerns High Performance Computing (HPC). Since the last report, the newly appointed Compute Canada (CC) CEO, Bill Applebe, has left the organization, and has been replaced (on an interim basis) by the CEO of Westgrid, Jill Kowalchuk. In a recent email communication, Jill indicated that CC is in the process of forming a Research Advisory Committee, and that this will include a CASCA representative. This is great news, as the lack in the current CC governance of a voice speaking for researchers across Canada has been a serious concern for the membership.

Finally, the CASCA Board is making preparations for a Mid Term Review (MTR) of our Long Range Plan. An MTR panel will be formed (we are in the process of identifying a Chair), and we are planning two Town Hall meetings to be held in June next year (one possibly in Québec immediately following the AGM, and one in Western Canada). Papers describing progress on the LPR priorities, as well as outlining new initiatives that might have emerged since the LPR, will be solicited before then.

 

Until next time, I wish everybody a very happy and productive summer.

Laura Ferrarese,

President of CASCA,

Victoria, June 15, 2013

CASCA Executive Award for Outstanding Service Presented to Dr. John B. Hutchings (March 17, 2013)

 
The CASCA Executive Award for Outstanding Service recognizes sustained contributions that have strengthened the Canadian astronomical community and enhanced its impact regionally, nationally and/or internationally.

 
On behalf of the CASCA Board, it is my pleasure to announce that the 2013 recipient of CASCA’s Executive Award is Dr. John B. Hutchings, of the National Research Council of Canada.

 
A native of South Africa, Dr. Hutchings joined NRC in 1967, after graduating from Cambridge University. During his long and distinguished career, Dr. Hutchings has received numerous awards and honors, including the Beals Award from the Canadian Astronomical Society in 1982, the Gold Medal from the Science Council of British Columbia in 1983, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1987. Although he formally retired from NRC in January 2012, this has had no effect on his commitment to strengthening the role of astronomy within Canada.

 
The author of over 450 papers in refereed journals, Dr. Hutchings is in the top 0.5% of most cited astrophysicists worldwide. He has worked on remarkably diverse topics including massive stars, stellar winds, X-ray binaries, novae, cataclysmic variables, the interstellar medium, active galaxies and quasars, radio galaxies, and high-redshift galaxy clusters. For this, he has used of a wide array of space- and ground-based facilities, from X-ray and ultraviolet satellites to radio interferometers.

 
Often working on astronomy’s forefront topics, from his early career Dr. Hutchings has been an indefatigable champion of space astronomy, leading Canadian participation in a series of key missions, including the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, Astrosat and the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope. In particular, beginning in the early 1980s, Dr. Hutchings worked tirelessly to secure Canadian participation in FUSE, negotiating access policies that enabled Canadian scientists to gain greater access than would be expected given Canada’s share of the costs, and leading the design of FUSE’s Fine Error Sensor (FES) camera, a critical system responsible for the precise tracking of the telescope.

 
The FES represented Canada’s first foray into international space astronomy hardware, meeting tracking and pointing specifications far more stringent than required by any previous Canadian effort in space plasma physics or communications satellites. Moreover, the FES package helped to open the door to Canada’s participation in JWST, thus enabling Canadians to be part of one of the most technologically advanced, and scientifically exciting, astronomy projects ever undertaken. From the initial phases of JWST’s mission design, Dr. Hutchings worked closely with the CSA and NASA to support negotiations that ultimately resulted in Canada being responsible for the design and construction of two of JWST’s critical instruments: the Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS), and the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS). Dr. Hutchings has been Canadian Project Scientist for JWST from 2001 to 2012, as well as Principal Investigator for the FGS.

 
Finally, Dr. Hutchings has been a steady voice and leader in many national and international committees. In Canada, he is a key contributor to CASCA/CSA’s Joint Committee for Space Astronomy, and a member of CASCA’s Ground Based Astronomy committee, of the Coalition for Astronomy TMT Planning Committee, and of CSA’s Euclid Science Advisory Committee. He is currently chair of CASCA’s Long Range Plan Implementation Committee, which is actively working to establish a framework for implementing and operating Canadian astronomical facilities in the coming decade.

 
For more than four decades, Dr. John Hutchings has charted a course of excellence for Canadian astronomy, setting the highest standards in scientific achievements, technical contributions, and service to the community. The Executive Award for Outstanding Service is CASCA’s attempt to recognize the selfless career of a renowned Canadian scientist: please join me in congratulating and thanking Dr. Hutchings for his outstanding contributions to our community.

 
Laura Ferrarese,
President of CASCA

Canada Contributes to One of Astronomy’s Most Powerful Telescopes (March 13, 2013)

On March 13 2013, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomical project in the world, will be inaugurated, celebrating ALMA’s transition from a construction project to a full-fledged observatory. The inauguration ceremony will take place at ALMA’s Operations Support Facility (OSF), 34 km from San Pedro de Atacama, in Chile.

 
What is ALMA?
Located at the highest and driest desert in the world (northern Chile), ALMA is one of astronomy’s most powerful telescopes, providing unprecedented imaging capabilities and sensitivity many orders of magnitude greater than anything of its kind today.

The Observatory is comprised of an array of 66 radio antennas that work together as one telescope to study millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light from space. These wavelengths, which cross the critical boundary between infrared and microwave radiation, hold the key to understanding such processes as the formation of planets, stars, galaxies, and of organic and other molecules in space.

 
Canada’s Contributions
Ten years ago the National Research Council of Canada agreed to design, develop and deliver seventy-three state-of-the-art receivers, operating at 3mm (100 GHz), as the major part of Canada’s contribution to the C$1.4B international ALMA radio telescope.

NRC Herzberg in Victoria, BC, is one of the few facilities in the world with expertise in superconducting detector technology for millimetre waves. These receivers are of paramount importance to the project because they are used for science applications but also for final adjustment of the antenna surfaces and for regular calibration of the array during operations.

“The receivers contributed by Canada play a critical role in the operation of ALMA. They are expected to lead directly to many discoveries ranging from images of ‘nearby’ planets, stars and gas clouds to the detection of the most distant objects in the Universe – galaxies in the early stages of their formation. They also serve as ‘work horses’ as they are used for all sorts of tests and calibrations of the system,” notes ALMA Deputy Director Lewis Ball.

The University of Calgary and McMaster University received awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to fund Canada’s share of the general site infrastructure costs Canadian programmers and astronomers at these universities also contributed to developing specialized code to allow astronomers to acquire and process ALMA data.

 
Can Canadian Astronomers access ALMA?
ALMA observing time is shared between all the participating countries. Canadian astronomers have access to North America’s 37.5% share of ALMA observing time. Astronomers have to submit a proposal to obtain observing time.

 
Canadian Industry Participation
Several Canadian companies provided significant contributions to NRC’s multimillion-dollar receiver program, including Nanowave Technologies of Etobicoke, ON, for the construction of the detector assemblies and the cryogenic low noise amplifiers; Daniels Electronics of Victoria, BC, for materials management and mechanical integrations; and K-Tec Industry and Prototype Equipment Design of British Columbia for providing high precision micro-machined parts. “We believe that the (cryogenic low noise amplifier) technology licensed from NRC could open up new markets for commercial and defence radar and satellite communications” says Dr. Justin Miller, President of Nanowave Technologies.

TeraXion of Quebec City, QC, won the multimillion-dollar contract from the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory to provide the laser system at the heart of the ALMA signal network between the antennas and supercomputers at the 5,000 m high Array Operations Site on the Chajnantor plateau.

 
Making a Difference
Astronomers from around the world will use these Canadian-made receivers to explore in unmatched detail the evolution of cold gas and dust throughout the Universe. Early observations with the first on line receivers provided new scientific insights and Canadian Project Scientist Christine Wilson of McMaster University comments, “I found it incredibly exciting that the first image published from ALMA used data from the Canadian-built 3mm receivers. The comparison of the new ALMA image with my measurements from a decade ago was absolutely stunning – ALMA did more in 3 hours of observing than we were able to do in 100 hours.”

 
The Partnership
The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan.

 
What’s Next
Canada’s construction contributions were completed with the delivery of Band 3. Final construction of the ALMA array continues through this calendar year. As of 1 January 2014, ALMA will be considered to be fully completed and in operations, with a focus on commissioning its extensive set of capabilities. A tripartite agreement for operations is currently under development.

 
Contact:
Media Relations
National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
1-855-282-1637
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca@nrc_cnrc

Dunlap Institute Summer School 2013

INTRODUCTION TO ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTATION:
Tools and Techniques for Pioneering Astronomers

University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
11-16 August 2013

Dunlap Institute Summer School Poster

This summer school is designed with both lecture and laboratory activities that are intended for senior undergraduates and graduate students with a background in Astronomy, Physics, or Engineering.

Register at: dunlap.utoronto.ca/instrumentation-school
Registration & Travel Grant Deadline: 12 April 2013
Registration Fee (without waiver): $500.00

SUMMER SCHOOL INCLUDES:

* The basic principles of astronomical instrumentation
* How telescopes work
* How long- and short-wavelength detectors work
* How high-precision spectrographs work
* Hands-on laboratory activities working directly with optics and mechanical equipment
* Hands-on experience with Fourier Transform Spectrometers

PROGRAM TOPICS:

* What are the latest and upcoming innovative instruments and telescopes?
* How are we discovering extrasolar planets?
* How do we discover and weigh supermassive black holes?
* How and what do we see at the edge of the observable universe?
* How do we measure the growth of structure in the universe?
* How will future instruments discover the first stars and galaxies?
* How will new millimetre-wave telescopes reveal shrouded sites of star formation?
* How and why do we use Adaptive Optics on ground-based telescopes?

INVITED INSTRUCTORS:

Matt Dobbs (McGill University)
Debra Fischer (Yale University)
Olivier Guyon (University of Arizona & Subaru National Observatory)
Jamie Lloyd (Cornell University)
David Naylor (University of Lethbridge)
George Rieke (University of Arizona)

DUNLAP INSTITUTE INSTRUCTORS:

Tuan Do
Rachel Friesen
James Graham
Jérôme Maire
Suresh Sivanandam
Keith Vanderlinde
Shelley Wright

SCIENCE AND LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE:

Alice Chow, Tuan Do, Debra Fischer (Yale), Rachel Friesen, James Graham, David Law, Jamie Lloyd (Cornell), Jérôme Maire, Peter Martin, Michael Reid, Chris Sasaki, Suresh Sivanandam, Keith Vanderlinde, Shelley Wright

 

CASCA/RASC/FAAQ Qilak Award Presented to Dr. James E. Hesser (March 3, 2013)

 
The Qilak award recognizes outstanding contributions to public understanding and appreciation of astronomy in Canada. CASCA is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2013 Qilak Award is Dr. James E. Hesser of the National Research Council.

 
Dr. Hesser has been a prominent figure in Canadian and international astronomy for many years. The director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory since 1986, Dr. Hesser is a past president of both CASCA (2004-2006) and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1987-1989), and a former vice-president of the American Astronomical Society (1991-1994). In 1997, Dr. Hesser was one of the first recipients of the prestigious Michael Smith Award, given through NSERC Canada to “honour people and groups that are inspirational in the way that they promote science to the general public”. He received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 in recognition of his services to the National Research Council and to all aspects of astronomy. In 2004, he received the CASCA Executive Award for exceptional service to CASCA, and he holds the title of Honorary President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

 
With a career-long commitment to astronomy education and public outreach, Dr. Hesser has led by example to forge an effective, efficient partnership between the main organizations of professional and amateur astronomy in Canada: CASCA, RASC, and the Fédération des astronomes amateurs du Québec (FAAQ). In collaboration with others, he worked diligently to establish respectful partnerships with Canada’s Aboriginal communities to preserve and celebrate indigenous knowledge of astronomy, and to illustrate pathways by which Aboriginal youth can aspire to and enter careers in science and technology. A longtime supporter of community outreach programmes, he often gives enthusiastic talks at astronomy conferences and other venues across Canada to encourage, motivate, and inspire his professional and amateur colleagues to participate in EPO activities.

 
Perhaps most significantly, Dr Hesser worked tirelessly to lead International Year of Astronomy (IYA) efforts within Canada. From 2005 to well beyond 2009, he led and guided this highly visible international project by serving as Canada’s “single point of contact” and as chair of the Executive Committee and Advisory Board for IYA within Canada. Under his direction, the IYA provided a “Galileo Moment” (i.e., “an engaging astronomy experience”) to more than two million people in Canada through more than 3600 separate events, from coast to coast to coast, and in both official languages. Always mindful of the need to cultivate lasting partnerships that sustain public interest in astronomy, Dr. Hesser has been a driving force behind “Beyond IYA” efforts within Canada.

 
CASCA thanks Dr. Hesser for his commitment to deepening the public’s understanding and appreciation of astronomy.

 
Laura Ferrarese, President, on behalf of the CASCA Board
Patrick Cote, Chair, on behalf of CASCA’s Awards Committee