Canada’s Name the Exoplanet Contest!

The International Astronomical Union asked that Canadians propose new names for the star HD 136418 and its exoplanet HD 136418b. We received over 500 suggestions! A shortlist of names was approved by a panel of specialists.

Voting closed on November 17, 2019.

The IAU announced the winners in December 2019.

Star: Nikawiy
Exoplanet: Awasis
Description: Nikawiy and Awasis are the words for “mother” and “child” in the Cree language. The planet orbits its mother, always together and looking for her light.
Proposed by: Amanda Green (Alberta) and Wilfred Buck (Manitoba)

Shortlist of Proposed Names for the Star HD 136418 and its Exoplanet

Star: Acakos
Exoplanet: Cakapis
Description: Acakos and Cakapis mean “star” and “little spirit” in the Cree language.
Proposed by: Wilfred Buck (Manitoba)

Star: Natseq
Exoplanet: Nanuq
Description: Natseq and Nanuq mean “seal” and “polar bear” in the Inuktitut language. The polar bear circles around the seal during the hunt.
Proposed by: Kim Hula-Hetu (Alberta), Louise Teira-Chapuy (Quebec), Jennifer Kneller (Alberta)

Star: Mitig
Exoplanet: Binesi
Description: Mitig and Binesi mean “tree” and “bird” in the Ojibwe language. The idea of a planet circling a star is linked to the idea of a bird circling a tree.
Proposed by: Brianne Valdes (Ontario)

Cassiopeia Newsletter – Winter Solstice d’hivers 2019

winter

In this issue / Dans ce numéro:

President’s Report
ALMA Matters
Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien
Report on the CASCA 2019 Teachers Workshop / Rapport sur la journée de formation pour enseignants – CASCA 2019
CATAC Update
CRAQ Summer School Announcement / Annonce d’École d’Été
JCMT Update
Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020
Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update
SKA Update


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.


Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien

By / par Stéphanie Côté (CGO, NRC Herzberg / OGC, CNRC Herzberg)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

La version française suit

DRAGONS Python Data Reduction Pipeline is Released

DRAGONS, Data Reduction for Astronomy from Gemini Observatory North and South, is Gemini’s new Python-base data reduction platform. DRAGONS offers a more streamlined approach to the data reduction of Gemini data, compared to the Gemini IRAF package. Its first public release, version 2.1.0, supports imaging reduction for the current facility instruments. For spectroscopy data, please continue to use Gemini IRAF for the time being, while work is on-going regarding the upcoming release of DRAGONS that will be including spectroscopy. To download DRAGONS, please follow the “Installation Instructions” here. For information and tutorials on DRAGONS, see the official Documentation.

If you have imaging data yet to be reduced, please consider DRAGONS for your reduction. You should start by reading and running the tutorial that matches your data, then we believe you will be able to replicate the process for your data. You are also encourage to share your feedback and inputs at DRAGONS Feedback Forum. We are particularly interested in your suggestions on how to improve the documentation.

IGRINS Visiting Gemini-South

IGRINS is a high-resolution (R~45,000), single-setting, near IR (1.45 – 2.5 microns) echelle spectrometer. It was built by a collaboration of the University of Texas and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute KASI, and has been used extensively on the 2.7m Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory. It is an extremely powerful and unique instrument that obtains both broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution. It delivers the entire H and K windows, from 1.45 to 2.5 microns, in a single exposure, at high resolution, thanks to the use of a silicon immersion echelle grating and two 2Kx2K infrared detectors. With the latest low-noise detectors and volume-phase holographic (VPH) cross-dispersers, IGRINS has the sensitivity to attack a broad range of astronomical problems.

When IGRINS visited Gemini previously in 2018A it was the most requested instruments from Canadian users (even more than GMOS which doesn’t happen very often!). Beginning in February 2020, IGRINS will be installed on the Gemini South Telescope as a long-term visiting instrument. Observing time will be scheduled in Queue, Fast Turnaround and Poor Weather modes.

At Gemini, the slit size will be 0.34ʺ x 5ʺ. Optimal targets will be those with K-band magnitudes between 10-14, but objects between K=4 and 16 mags will be possible. A python based data reduction pipeline for IGRINS is available to the public.

Call for Proposals for Gemini Long and Large Programs and Subaru Intensive Programs

Watch your CASCA emails for an announcement coming very soon with all the details about the next Call for Proposals for Gemini Long and Large Programs, as well as Subaru Legacy Programs. The deadline will be April 1st 2020, with letters of intent due February 4th 2020.

Gemini Large and Long Programs (LLPs) are Principal Investigator-defined and -driven programs that, as a guideline, either require significantly more time than a partner typically approves for a single program or extend over two to six semesters, or both. Also note that through the Gemini-Subaru time exchange program, Canadians can apply for a Subaru Intensive program, which will follow the same rules and eligibility used for the Gemini Large and Long Programs. At most, one proposal will be selected from the Gemini community for observations on Subaru. But note that no proposals were received in the last 3 Calls (from Canada or USA) for Subaru, and so if you want to grab a lot of time on Subaru here’s your chance to jump on it!

Be aware that most of the observations for the LLPs are expected to be carried out in the Priority Visitor Observing mode, in which a visiting observer is placed in the telescope control room for a block exceeding their program’s time allocation, and elects when to carry out their program within that block. This may be when conditions are within their requirement, better than their requirement or even fail to meet their requirement. Whenever they are observing, the program is charged for the time at 100%. If time remains on the program after the priority visitor observing time is complete, the program carries on in the regular queue with priority given by the TAC-assigned science ranking band (1 or 2). Note that this mode is also available for Band 1 programs. Please indicate your interest to use this mode in the Technical Justification part of the proposal.

Gemini Science Conference 2020: See you in Seoul!

Come join us for the Gemini Science conference “20th Anniversary and Beyond”, June 21-25 2020, in Seoul, Korea. This will be a celebration of 20 years of Gemini’s forefront access to the entire sky, and a preview of the even more exciting things to come. Hosted by the Gemini partnership’s newest member, this meeting will feature the latest scientific results from Gemini, news on current instrumentation projects, updates on operations developments, and lively discussion of Gemini’s strategic plans for the coming decade. To make sure you get notified about registration etc please sign up here.

Recent Canadian Gemini Press Releases

Record-Breaking Protocluster Takes Fast-track

On September 26 an international team of astronomers led by Yuichi Harikane (U of Tokyo) and including Scott Chapman (Dalhousie), announced the discovery of the most distant large-scale cluster of galaxies that has been spectroscopically confirmed so far. Known as z660D, this protocluster with several galaxies confirmed at z=6.585 thanks to Gemini, was originally found by the HyperSuprime-Cam imager on Subaru. It shows that such large-scale structures already existed when the Universe was only about 800 million years old. Also surprising is the location of its ‘Himiko’ (enormous protogalaxy with huge gas halo) which is not near the center of the cluster but rather on the edge, 500 million light years away from the cluster’s center. The press release can be found here and the APJ preprint here.

Two Ancient Migration Events in the Andromeda Galaxy

Figure 1 – Andromeda’s outer halo globular clusters separate in two groups: those indicated with star symbols which are associated with halo substructures (streams), and those with circles that are not, and with colors according to their line-of-sight velocities. The two populations have different orbits, and this indicates two distinct accretion events in the history of M31. Credit: Nature 574, 69 (2019)


On October 1st a press release was published about a study showing that M31 underwent two major accretion epochs, based on two very distinct populations of globular clusters. The Nature paper led by Douglas Mackey (ANU) and including Pat Côté and Alan McConnachie (HAA, NRC), report an analysis of the kinematics of M31`s globular clusters, and find two distinct populations rotating perpendicular to each other. One population is aligned with the rotation axis for the plane of dwarf galaxies that encircles M31. These separate cluster populations are interpreted as arising from two major accretion epochs, probably separated by billions of years.

Join the thousands and thousands of Gemini Observatory followers on Facebook: @GeminiObservatory and Twitter: @GeminiObs



Le pipeline de réduction de données DRAGONS en python est disponible

DRAGONS, Data Reduction for Astronomy for Gemini Observatory North and South, est la nouvelle plate-forme de réduction de données Gemini en Python. DRAGONS propose une approche plus rationalisée de la réduction des données Gemini, par rapport au progiciel Gemini IRAF. Sa première version publique, la version 2.1.0, prend en charge la réduction de l’imagerie pour les instruments présents. Pour les données de spectroscopie, veuillez continuer à utiliser Gemini IRAF pour le moment, pendant que les travaux sont en cours sur la prochaine version de DRAGONS qui inclura la spectroscopie. Pour télécharger DRAGONS, veuillez suivre les «Instructions d’installation» ici. Pour des informations et des tutoriels sur DRAGONS, consultez la documentation officielle.

Si vous avez des données d’imagerie à réduire, veuillez considérer DRAGONS pour votre réduction. Vous devriez commencer par lire et exécuter le didacticiel qui correspond à vos données, puis vous pourrez répliquer le processus sur vos données. Vous êtes également encouragé(e) à partager vos commentaires et contributions sur DRAGONS Feedback Forum. Nous sommes particulièrement intéressés par vos suggestions sur la façon d’améliorer la documentation.

IGRINS visite Gemini-Sud

IGRINS est un spectromètre de haute résolution (R ~ 45 000) en proche-IR (1,45 – 2,5 microns). Il a été construit par une collaboration de l’Université du Texas et de l’Institut coréen d’astronomie et des sciences spatiales KASI, et a été largement utilisé sur le télescope de 2.7m Harlan J. Smith de McDonald Observatory. C’est un instrument extrêmement puissant et unique qui obtient à la fois une large couverture spectrale et une haute résolution spectrale. Il délivre l’intégralité des fenêtres H et K, de 1,45 à 2,5 microns, en une seule exposition, à haute résolution, grâce à l’utilisation d’un réseau échelle à immersion en silicium et de deux détecteurs infrarouges 2Kx2K. Avec des détecteurs à faible bruit et des disperseurs croisés holographiques en phase volumique (VPH), IGRINS a la sensibilité pour attaquer un large éventail de problèmes astronomiques.

Lorsque IGRINS a visité Gemini en 2018A, il a été l`instrument le plus demandé par les utilisateurs canadiens (encore plus que les GMOS, ce qui n’arrive pas très souvent!). À partir de février 2020, IGRINS sera installé sur le télescope Gemini-Sud en tant qu’instrument visiteur à long terme. Le temps d’observation sera cédulé en mode queue, Réponse rapide (Fast Turnaround) et Mauvaises conditions météorologiques (Poor Weather).

À Gemini, la taille de la fente sera de 0,34ʺ x 5ʺ. Les cibles optimales seront celles dont la magnitude en bande K est comprise entre 10 et 14, mais des objets entre K = 4 et 16 mags seront possibles. Un pipeline de réduction de données en python pour IGRINS est disponible publiquement.

Appel de demandes pour les Programmes Gemini Longs et Larges et les Programmes Intensifs sur Subaru

Surveillez vos courriels CASCA pour une annonce à venir très prochainement donnant tous les détails sur le prochain appel de demandes pour les Programmes Longs et Larges de Gemini, ainsi que pour les Programmes Intensifs sur Subaru. La date limite est le 1er avril 2020, les lettres d’intention étant attendues le 4 février 2020.

Les programmes Gemini Longs et Larges (LLP) sont des programmes dirigés par un(e) chercheur(euse) principal(e) qui, à titre indicatif, nécessitent soit beaucoup plus de temps que ce qu’un pays approuve généralement pour un seul programme, ou s’étalent sur deux à six semestres, ou les deux. Notez également que grâce au programme d’échange de temps Gemini-Subaru, les Canadien(ne)s peuvent proposer un programme intensif Subaru, qui suivra les mêmes règles et conditions d’admissibilité que celles utilisées pour les programmes Gemini Longs et Larges. Une seule demande sera sélectionnée de la communauté Gemini pour des observations sur Subaru. Mais notez qu’aucune demande n’a été soumise au cours des 3 derniers appels (provenant soit du Canada ou des États-Unis) pour Subaru, et donc si vous voulez obtenir beaucoup de temps sur Subaru, c’est votre chance!

Sachez que la plupart des observations pour les LLP devraient être effectuées en mode d’observation visiteur prioritaire, c’est-à-dire qu`un observateur(trice) visiteur est placé dans la salle de contrôle du télescope pour un bloc dépassant le temps alloué à leur programme, et choisit quand exécuter leur programme dans ce bloc. Cela peut être lorsque les conditions sont telles que requises, mieux que requises ou même moins bonnes que prévues. Chaque fois qu’ils observent, le programme est facturé à 100%. S’il reste du temps au programme après la fin du temps d’observation visiteur prioritaire, le programme continue dans la queue régulière avec la priorité donnée par la bande de classement scientifique attribuée par le TAC (1 ou 2). Notez que ce mode est également disponible pour les programmes en Bande 1. Veuillez indiquer votre intérêt à utiliser ce mode dans la partie Justification technique de la demande.

Conférence Scientifique Gemini 2020: Rendez-vous à Séoul!

Venez vous joindre à nous pour la conférence scientifique Gemini «20e anniversaire et au-delà», le 21-25 juin 2020, à Séoul, Corée. Ce sera une célébration des 20 ans d’accès de premier plan au ciel entier par Gemini, et un aperçu des choses encore plus excitantes à venir. Accueillie par le plus récent membre du partenariat Gemini, cette réunion présentera les derniers résultats scientifiques de Gemini, des nouvelles sur les projets d’instrumentation en cours, des mises à jour sur les développements des opérations et une discussion animée sur les plans stratégiques de Gemini pour la prochaine décennie. Pour vous assurer d’être tenu au courant de l`inscription à la conférence, etc., veuillez vous inscrire sur ici.

Communiqués de presse canadiens récents

Un proto-amas battant tous les records

Le 26 septembre dernier, une équipe internationale d’astronomes dirigée par Yuichi Harikane (U de Tokyo) et comprenant Scott Chapman (Dalhousie), a annoncé la découverte de l’amas de galaxies à grande échelle le plus éloigné qui ait été confirmé par spectroscopie jusqu’à présent. Connu sous le nom de z660D, ce proto-amas avec plusieurs galaxies confirmées à z = 6,585 grâce à Gemini, a été initialement trouvé par l’imageur HyperSuprime-Cam sur Subaru. Cela montre que de telles structures à grande échelle existaient déjà lorsque l’Univers n’avait que 800 millions d’années. L’emplacement de son «Himiko» (énorme protogalaxie avec un énorme halo gazeux) qui n’est pas situé près du centre de l’amas mais plutôt sur sa périphérie, à 500 millions d’années-lumière du centre de l’amas, est également surprenant. Le communiqué de presse est disponible ici et la prépublication APJ ici.

Deux anciens événements migratoires dans la galaxie d’Andromède

Figure 1 – Les amas globulaires du halo externe d’Andromède se séparent en deux groupes: ceux indiqués avec des symboles en étoiles qui sont associés à des sous-structures du halo (courants stellaires), et ceux avec des cercles qui ne le sont pas, et avec des couleurs selon leurs vitesses de ligne de visée. Les deux populations ont des orbites différentes, ce qui indique deux événements d’accrétion distincts dans l’histoire de M31. Crédit: Nature 574, 69 (2019)


Le 1er octobre dernier, un communiqué de presse a été publié sur une étude montrant que M31 semble avoir subi deux époques d’accrétion majeures, étant donné ses deux populations très distinctes d’amas globulaires. L`article dans Nature signé par Douglas Mackey (ANU) et incluant Pat Côté et Alan McConnachie (HAA, CNRC), donne une analyse de la cinématique des amas globulaires de M31, et trouve deux populations distinctes tournant perpendiculairement l’une à l’autre. Une population est alignée avec l’axe de rotation du plan des galaxies naines qui encercle M31. Ces populations d`amas globulaires distinctes sont interprétées comme provenant de deux époques d’accrétion majeures, probablement séparées par des milliards d’années.

Rejoignez les milliers et milliers de suiveurs de l’Observatoire Gemini sur Facebook: @GeminiObservatory et Twitter: @GeminiObs.

Report on the CASCA 2019 Teachers Workshop / Rapport sur la journée de formation pour enseignants – CASCA 2019

By / par Julie Bolduc-Duval, Discover the Universe / À la découverte de l’univers
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

La version française suit

A workshop for secondary school teachers was one again organized during the CASCA annual meeting last June. Being in Montreal, it was decided that the workshop should be presented in French as the primary language, with a few presentations in English.

Because of the timing of the annual meeting (during the very last week of school in Quebec), we were afraid the response from teachers wouldn’t be great. In the end, the opposite happened: over 40 teachers registered and we had to close registrations over one week before the event on June 19, 2019.

The day was filled with presentations by scientists and activities for teachers to implement in class. Special thanks to our guest speakers: Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (ALMA), Pierre Chastenay (UQAM), Frédérique Baron (UdeM), Mary Beth Laychak (CFHT), Paula Boubel (McGill), and Nathalie Ouellette (UdeM). The activities included gravitational lensing with wine glass bottoms and Pocket Black Hole, simulating an exoplanet transit, introduction to WorldWideTelescope and more.

The workshop was once again an outstanding success! The comments from participants were extremely positive and they enjoyed being part of the CASCA meeting and the opportunity to explore the scientific posters. The workshop even created new opportunities and partnerships: Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais was invited to present remotely to many schools through the program Écoles en réseau (networking schools) after a participant in our workshop saw her talk on black holes. This was an amazing opportunity for many elementary classrooms in Quebec to talk to a scientist live from Chile.

The workshop was possible due to the financial contributions of Discover the Universe, CASCA and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

If you would like more information about the workshop, such as the activities presented, or if you’re interested in helping out with the next edition of the workshop at CASCA2020, please contact me at julie@discovertheuniverse.ca.





Une journée de formation pour enseignants a encore une fois été organisée en marge du congrès de la CASCA en juin dernier. Étant à Montréal, il fut décidé de présenter cette formation en français majoritairement, avec quelques présentations en anglais.

Puisque le congrès était plus tard dans l’année (19 juin, ce qui correspond à la dernière semaine d’école au Québec), nous avions peur que peu d’enseignants puissent participer. Finalement, l’inverse s’est produit : nous avons reçu plus de 40 inscriptions et avons dû fermer les inscriptions plus d’une semaine avant l’évènement!

L’horaire de la journée était rempli de courtes présentations scientifiques et d’activités pour les enseignants à faire en classe. Merci à nos conférenciers invités : Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais (ALMA), Pierre Chastenay (UQAM), Frédérique Baron (UdeM), Mary Beth Laychak (CFHT), Paula Boubel (McGill) et Nathalie Ouellette (UdeM). Les activités présentées incluaient : lentilles gravitationnelles avec fonds de coupes à vin et l’application Pocket Black Hole, simuler un transit d’exoplanètes, introduction à WorldWideTelescope et plus encore.

La formation a encore une fois été un grand succès! Les commentaires reçus des participants sont extrêmement positifs et ceux-ci ont apprécié faire partie du congrès CASCA et avoir l’opportunité d’explorer les posters scientifiques. La formation a aussi créé des opportunités nouvelles : une participante a par la suite invité Marie-Lou Gendron-Marsolais à faire une présentation à distance en direct du Chili avec des classes du primaire partout au Québec grâce à l’organisme Écoles en réseau. Ce fut une belle occasion pour toutes ces classes de rencontrer virtuellement une scientifique et lui poser des questions.

La formation pour enseignants fut réalisée grâce au support financier d’À la découverte de l’univers, CASCA et du Télescope Canada-France-Hawaii.

Si vous voulez plus d’information sur la formation, par exemple sur les activités présentées, ou si vous êtes intéressés à aider lors de la prochaine journée de formation à CASCA 2020, écrivez-moi à julie@discovertheuniverse.ca.

CRAQ Summer School Announcement / Annonce d’École d’Été

By / par Robert La Montagne
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

La version française suit

The Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec (CRAQ) is announcing its annual Summer School, which will be held on June 15-17, 2020 in Montreal, Quebec.

This year’s topic will focus on Cosmology. This 3-day school will introduce cutting-edge observational probes of cosmology such as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), intensity mapping, and gravitational lensing, with hands-on analysis examples including CMB mapmaking, MCMC parameter estimation, and machine learning. Instructors will include Adrian Liu, Cynthia Chiang, Matt Dobbs, Jon Sievers (McGill University), Yashar Hezaveh, and Laurence Perreault Levasseur (Université de Montréal).

The CRAQ Summer School is principally aimed at graduate students in the field of physics, astronomy, and astrophysics, although students who have completed an undergraduate program in physics will also be accepted.

There is no registration fee. However, we cannot offer traveling funds or cover lodging expenses.

Additional information about the program, registration and accommodation will be available soon on this site: craq-astro.ca/summerschool.

Email contact: Summer.School@craq-astro.ca



Le Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec (CRAQ) annonce son école d’été annuelle, qui aura lieu du 15 au 17 juin 2020 à Montréal, Québec.

Le thème de cette année portera sur la cosmologie. Cette école, d’une durée de 3 jours, se concentrera sur les techniques de pointe permettant de sonder les phénomènes cosmologiques telles que le rayonnement de fond cosmologique (RFC), la cartographie d’intensité et les lentilles gravitationnelles; plusieurs exemples d’analyse, incluant la cartographie RFC, l’estimation des paramètres MCMC et les méthodes d’apprentissage automatique seront utilisés. Les professeurs seront Adrian Liu, Cynthia Chiang, Matt Dobbs, Jon Sievers (McGill University), Yashar Hezaveh et Laurence Perreault Levasseur (Université de Montréal).

L’école d’été du CRAQ s’adresse principalement à des étudiants aux cycles supérieurs dans le domaine de la physique, de l’astronomie et de l’astrophysique. Les étudiants ayant complété un programme de premier cycle en physique seront également acceptés.

Il n’y a aucuns frais d’inscription. Cependant, nous ne pouvons offrir de subside pour couvrir les frais de déplacement ou d’hébergement.

Les informations additionnelles à propos du programme, de l’inscription et de l’hébergement seront disponibles bientôt sur le site : craq-astro.ca/summerschool.

Courriel: Summer.School@craq-astro.ca

ALMA Matters

ALMAlogo

By / par Gerald Schieven (ALMA)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

Continued Canadian Participation in ALMA

Canada participates in the ALMA consortium through an agreement between the National Research Council Canada and the US National Science Foundation. This ten-year contribution agreement is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. To determine whether this agreement should be continued, and at what level, the NRC struck a review panel consisting of Erik Rosolowsky (chair; U Alberta), Sarah Sadavoy (Queen’s U), Nienke van der Marel (U Victoria) and Christine Wilson (McMaster U). The panel reviewed the participation of the Canadian community and the impact of ALMA on the broader study of astronomy, and conducted a survey of the community. The committee found that Canadians are receiving observing time and publishing high impact ALMA publications at rates commensurate with our investment in the facility, with approximately half of Canadian ALMA publications being led by Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) trainees. Furthermore, the general public has shown great interest in ALMA’s participation in the results from the Event Horizon Telescope. The committee recommended that NRC should therefore negotiate with the NSF for continued Canadian partnership in the North American executive of the ALMA observatory.

Cycle 6/7 Update

Observing in the last few months of Cycle 6 was affected by a few episodes of high winds and/or snow. Adding to some delays earlier in the observing cycle, this resulted in Cycle 6 completing 88% of the target of 4000 hours of observations. The observatory delivered 90% of pipeline-processed observations within 65 days of completion and 90% of non-standard observations within 118 days. Cycle 7 began successfully on 01 October 2019, with a smooth transition in both hardware and software. Observations have been going largely smoothly, but access to the telescope and normal operations have been impacted by the political unrest in Chile. Due to advisories from the JAO, NAASC and MAG member Gerald Schieven did not travel to Chile for a schedule AoD shift in November.

ALMA received 1773 proposals for Cycle 7, a 3.6% decrease from the record number set in Cycle 6. It is possible that some of this decrease may have been due to the advertised supplemental call for the ALMA Compact Array scheduled for the fall (see next paragraph). All proposals were ranked by the Proposal Review Committee in Atlanta, Georgia in June. Forty-three of these proposals had a Canadian PI and 247 had a Canadian PI or co-I. The global oversubscription rates were 4.4 and 4.2 for the 12m array and the ACA, respectively, indicating a continuing high demand for ALMA time. A/B grades were awarded to 398 proposals and C grades to a further 236 proposals. Of these proposals, Canadian PIs led 10 A/B and 4 C-graded proposals and Canadians were PIs or co-Is on 57 A/B and 36 C-graded proposals. In terms of allocated A+B time, Canadian PIs received 10.1% of the North American share, 5.7% from the 12m array and 16.7% from the ACA. Overall, 18.4% and 15.6% of 12m array and ACA time, respectively, was awarded to proposals with a Canadian PI or co-I. Of special note is the award of the first Canadian-led large program, VERTICO (Virgo Environment traced in CO), an ACA-standalone program to map 51 spiral galaxies in the Virgo Cluster led by postdoc Toby Brown at McMaster University. The number of unique Canadian PIs was 25 and there were 92 individuals on submitted ALMA proposals from 18 institutions in Canada.

The observatory held its second supplemental call for ACA-only proposals in fall 2019. Unlike in Cycle 4, when the deadline was approximately a month after the main ALMA call, this proposal deadline was set to October 1 and was advertised well in advance of the normal April proposal deadline. A total of 249 proposals requesting 8000 hours were submitted, giving an oversubscription rate of 3.2. This proposal call also served as a test of a new review model called Distributed Peer Review (DPR). Each PI (or designated co-I) received 10 proposals to review and rank, with the final observing queue built using the average of the received grades. Anecdotal evidence suggests this review model worked quite smoothly. The observatory anticipates holding another supplemental ACA-only call in fall 2020 for Cycle 8. In the long term, the observatory is considering using Distributed Peer Review for the main ALMA call in the spring starting in Cycle 9, although the details remain to be worked out.

ESO hosted a very successful pan-ALMA meeting, “Science and Synergies” in Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy. Scientific highlights included invited presentations from the 10 ALMA Large Programs from Cycles 4-6, spanning science topics from protostellar disks to evolved stars to nearby galaxies to the high redshift universe. The meeting was highly oversubscribed, with selection required both for attendees and for poster presentations. Unfortunately, a typhoon in Tokyo the weekend before the meeting meant that many Japanese astronomers were unable to get to the meeting.

ALMA North American Development Studies Cycle 7 / FY2020

In order to assure ALMA’s continued role at the forefront of science and technology, each ARC periodically awards funding for ALMA development studies and projects. Studies are funded for 1-2 years to assess the feasibility of software or hardware upgrades to the array, while projects are funded for 2-3 years to develop the technology. The results of the latest North American call for development studies has recently been announced. (See here for more details.) Eight proposals, two of which were from Canadian institutions, were awarded funding. Of these, five were hardware studies, and three software/archive. The two Canadian proposals are described below. For a discussion of the eight successful studies, see here.

ARCADE: ALMA Reduction in the CANFAR Data Environment (Kirk/ NRC)

NRC’s Millimetre Astronomy Group and the Canadian Astronomical Data Centre, in collaboration with McMaster University, are pleased to announce that they were recently awarded funding for the ALMA North American Cycle 7 Development Study program for their proposal entitled “ARCADE: ALMA Reduction in the CANFAR Data Environment”. One year of funding is provided for our group to further develop and scale-up our prototype system, ARCADE. The vision for ARCADE is to provide a stable cloud-based computing environment designed to handle ALMA data for all Canadian researchers. ARCADE will have ample storage space and processing power, and will come pre-loaded with all versions of CASA. Through its intuitive web-based interface, both new and expert users will be able to access the computing resources required for all of their ALMA data reduction and imaging needs. At present, we have been working on an early prototype of the ARCADE system with a small number of alpha testers. The development study funding will allow us to learn how to best scale up the system to handle many simultaneous users with independent resource allocations and to improve the system’s general usability through extensive beta testing. For more information, please contact the PI, Helen Kirk.

High-level Design and Integration of NRC TALON based Correlator for Increased Channels, Bandwidth and Baselines (Pleasance/ NRC)

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center (HAA) has designed a Frequency Slice Architecture (FSA) Correlator/Beamformer (CBF) based on the NRC’s TALON technology for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Mid Frequency Correlator/Beamformer (Mid.CBF). The TALON FSA CBF design is flexible in nature and easily adapted to other radio interferometers. This has been demonstrated with the inclusion of a TALON FSA CBF in the ngVLA reference design. The NRC was recently awarded a Cycle 7 ALMA Development study to investigate the potential of integrating a TALON FSA CBF into the ALMA observatory. The scope of the study includes several activities. The first activity is to studying existing ALMA interfaces to the CBF and understand current capabilities and the roadmap for future capabilities. The second activity is to document a high-level design for a suitable TALON FSA CBF including a detailed description of the capabilities, rack space, and power estimates for a CBF that handles the existing bandwidth and number of antennas. A key focus will be on minimizing the impact to other ALMA systems surrounding the CBF. The final activity is to describe how the presented architecture could be expanded to handle additional antennas and provide increased bandwidth and channels. There is the potential for follow on studies to present a detailed design and project plan for deploying a TALON FSA CBF at the ALMA observatory. The principle investigator for this study, titled “High level design and integration of NRC TALON based correlator for increased channels, bandwidth and baselines”, is Sonja Vrcic located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton, BC, Canada.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

There has been no attempt to restart construction of the TMT since protestors blocked the Mauna Kea access road in mid-July. The protests, and the responses to them, have remained non-violent, as stakeholders work to find a solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, TMT opponents have been effectively disseminating their message, tapping into broader issues related to indigenous rights in Hawai’i and around the world. Parallels have been drawn with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation committee here in Canada. This has mobilized some in Canada to express strong support for the view that the TMT project must do more to achieve the consent from Native Hawaiians before proceeding.

There is a long history of astronomy on Maunakea, including many stories of discovery and inclusiveness, but also a history of conflict that predates TMT. TMT itself has been part of the Canadian conversation since 2000, and the present site on Mauankea was selected (and supported by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a public agency responsible for improving the well-being of Native Hawaiians) ten years ago. This context is important, as are the efforts of the TMT project over the past decade to gain the consent and support of the Hawaiian population. To this end, CATAC prepared a document about the history and current status of the project, with several important references and links to factual information. To quote from that report:

All evidence is that the project followed procedures that were believed to be appropriate for obtaining consent from Hawaiians, and that construction halted in the face of protests. We see nothing shameful in trying to find a peaceful solution for a project that has been nearly twenty years in development, and that promises economic benefits to Hawaiians and scientific benefit to the world.

There appears to be a good understanding now, at least among most Canadian astronomers, University and political leaders, that Canada should not directly interfere in the process happening in Hawai’i. Mayor Harry Kim has been charged with negotiating a solution, and he released a report in late September titled The Heart of Aloha. While this short report is a good start, it is likely that additional, new ideas will be needed to resolve the conflict. We understand that there is still a lot of activity going on within the Hawaiian community to find a solution. Thus, we continue to wait to see if a path forward will emerge.

In the meantime, progress on obtaining two building permits at the alternative site in the Canary Islands continued, and both were in place by mid-November. Decisions on the next steps will be made by the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Members, who have been meeting regularly since August. The site at ORM presents its own significant challenges, scientifically, socially, financially and politically.

TMT and the LRP

CATAC provided a comprehensive report to LRP2020, which is meant to also serve many of the purposes of a white paper. TMT has been a topic of discussion at Town Halls across the country. At the moment there is uncertainty about the project, and much of this is likely to be resolved, one way or the other, well before the LRP report is published. Should a fundamental change (e.g. in site, scope, timescale etc) be announced, there will be a need for consultation and further input to the LRP process. CATAC is prepared to lead this process.

Instrumentation

Following discussion at the CASCA meeting in May, CATAC revised and finalized our recommendations for post-first light instrumentation. Those recommendations are summarized here for convenience:

  1. We recommend that Canadian SAC members support a transparent and effective instrumentation development plan, similar to the one presented by Luc Simard to the TMT SAC in November, 2010.
  2. Instrument teams require time and funding to develop ideas to the level that allows them to compete for significant external construction funds. We recommend that Canadian Board and SAC members emphasize the importance that the TIO provide funding for early design work (e.g. mini-studies) as well as for Conceptual Design Phases. Despite the budget challenges facing the project, this work must begin immediately if we are to have a competitive instrument suite on the telescope.
  3. We recommend that Canadians interested in the scientific or technical capabilities of an instrument contact other TMT partners and begin work on these ideas now, to the extent possible.
  4. The TMT Science Forums have proven to be fertile environments for building relationships between partners for instrument development. Forums have now been held in all partner countries except Canada. Canada should host the next TMT Science Forum.

Regarding the final recommendation, the SAC has expressed support for this proposal and it is expected that the next Science Forum will be held in Canada sometime in 2021.

The main new development is that the high-contrast, high-dispersion spectrograph MODHIS has been endorsed by the SAC as a first-light instrument, though its exact nature is still a topic of discussion. MODHIS will be effective for finding and characterizing massive exoplanets. Several Canadians are part of a CFI application that includes funding to participate in the development of this instrument.

Upcoming Events

The TMT Early Career Workshop will be held at HAA, May 26-June 1, 2020.

CATAC membership:
Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair, mbalogh@uwaterloo.ca
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
Harvey Richer (UBC)
Kristine Spekkens (Royal Military College of Canada)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Rob Thacker (CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
Kim Venn (TIO Governing Board, non-voting, ex-officio)
Stan Metchev (TIO SAC, non-voting, ex-officio)
Tim Davidge (TIO SAC Canadian co-chair; NRC, observer)
Greg Fahlman (NRC, observer)

Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020

From / de Pauline Barmby, Bryan Gaensler (LRP2020 co-chairs / co-présidents PLT2020)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

La version française suit

Canadian astronomers have provided enthusiastic input to the LRP2020 process. A total of 66 reports were submitted. The six LRP town halls in October and November included 38 presentations and 12 discussion sessions. About 180 people registered to attend town halls, most for more than one event. Remote participants at each event numbered between 20 and 40. Between us, the co-chairs took about 100 pages of notes!

The town hall discussions ranged widely over many topics. Some recurring themes included balance between the competing priorities of infrastructure and human resources, need for coordination between the many funding agencies and structures that support astronomy, a strong desire for Canadian leadership (not just participation) in the projects that we choose, and interest in addressing questions of how Canadian astronomy fits into and serves Canadian society. Uncertainty over the future of astronomy on Maunakea was apparent in the discussion of several facilities, not just the Thirty Meter Telescope. Computing and data were identified as pressing issues, both immediately and in many future projects under consideration. Finally, the need for a long-term vision for astronomy in Canada was well-articulated by Alan McConnachie of NRC’s Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics: “a plan without a vision is just a shopping list.”

The next steps in the LRP process are for the panel to discuss the projects, facilities and recommendations contained in the white papers, and to decide on a set of priorities. Prioritisation will take place in December 2019 and January 2020 as the report-writing begins. A presentation of the draft recommendations will take place in June at the CASCA AGM in Toronto.

The activity associated with the town halls has prevented the LRP webpage from being as up-to-date as we’d like and we thank the community for your patience. The latest news on LRP2020 is available from the Slack workspace and through our Twitter handle @LRP2020. The panel can be contacted at panel@lrp2020.groups.io and the co-chairs at chairs@lrp2020.groups.io.



Les astronomes canadiens ont contribué avec enthousiasme au processus PLT2020. Un total de 66 rapports de comité ou communauté ont été soumis. Les six assemblées publiques du PLT en octobre et novembre comprenaient 38 présentations et 12 séances de discussion. Environ 180 personnes se sont inscrites pour assister aux assemblées publiques, la plupart pour plus d’un événement. Les participants à distance à chaque événement étaient entre 20 et 40. Entre nous, les coprésidents ont pris environ 100 pages de notes!

Les discussions aux assemblées publiques ont porté sur de nombreux sujets. Certains thèmes récurrents comprenaient l’équilibre entre les priorités concurrentes de l’infrastructure et des ressources humaines, le besoin de coordination entre les nombreuses agences de financement et les structures qui soutiennent l’astronomie, un fort désir de leadership canadien (pas seulement la participation) dans les projets que nous choisissons, et un intérêt pour répondre aux questions sur la façon dont l’astronomie canadienne s’intègre et sert la société canadienne. L’incertitude quant à l’avenir de l’astronomie sur Maunakea est apparue dans la discussion de plusieurs installations, pas seulement du télescope de trente mètres. L’informatique et les données ont été identifiées comme des problèmes urgents à la fois immédiatement et dans de nombreux projets futurs à l’étude. Enfin, la nécessité d’une vision à long terme de l’astronomie au Canada a été bien exprimée par Alan McConnachie de Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics du CNRC: «un plan sans vision n’est qu’une liste d’épicerie».

Les prochaines étapes du processus LRP consistent pour le panel à discuter des projets, des installations et des recommandations contenues dans les livres blancs et à décider d’un ensemble de priorités. La hiérarchisation aura lieu en décembre 2019 et janvier 2020 au début de la rédaction du rapport. Une présentation de l’ébauche des recommandations aura lieu en juin lors de l’assemblée generale de la CASCA à Toronto.

L’activité associée avec les aux assemblées publiques a empêché la page Web du PLT d’être aussi à jour que nous le souhaiterions et nous remercions la communauté pour votre patience. Les dernières nouvelles sur LRP2020 sont disponibles sur l’espace de travail Slack et sur Twitter @LRP2020. Le panel peut être contacté à panel@lrp2020.groups.io et les co-présidents à chairs@lrp2020.groups.io.

Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Update

By / par Kristine Spekkens (Canadian SKA Science Director)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

Composite image of the SKA at night. Credit: SKA Organisation.

There have been exciting developments in the SKA project over the last six months, and the project is progressing quickly. A detailed account of the recent history and current status of the SKA project in Canada can be found in the final report to the 2020 LRP Panel by Spekkens that was submitted at the end of September, as well as the SKA White Paper by Spekkens that recommends Canada’s continued participation in the project from 2020-2030.

The SKA1 Baseline Design is mature, and the main tasks of the SKA Organisation (SKAO) over the last several months have been a) the post-critical design review (CDR) closeout of element consortia and b) the planning and execution of System CDR. The only outstanding element CDR is that for the Dish (DSH) consortium, which has been pushed back to Q4 2020 to provide enough time for prototyping lessons learned to be incorporated into the design and for outstanding IP issues to be resolved. SKA1 System CDR was passed on 13 Dec 2019 – this is a major milestone for the project. Among the documents produced for System CDR, the revised operations plan and first complete cost book have improved the reliability of the costing estimates for SKA1. Both are scheduled for external review in Q2 2020 and constitute key inputs to the definition of the SKA1 Deployment Baseline (ie. the instrument that will initially be built), which will take place on the same timescale. The SKAO Board expects to endorse the SKA1 Construction Proposal, Operations Plan, and Business-Enabling Plan in Q3 2020 for transmission to the IGO Council (see below) to enable a construction start in Q2 2021. The next six months of the SKA project are thus arguably the most critical in its 20-year history, and Canadians are deeply engaged.

As SKA1 moves from pre-construction to construction, governance of the project will transition from the SKAO, a not-for-profit company in the UK, to an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) that is established by treaty convention. Among the seven countries that signed the convention in March 2019 (Australia, China, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom), the Netherlands was the first to ratify it in August 2019. The IGO will come into existence when five signatories ratify the convention, which is anticipated in Q3 2020. This schedule implies that the IGO will become fully functional in Q4 2020 and will take control of the project in Q1 2021. In the interim, a Council Preparatory Task Force (CPTF) is representing the interests of current and anticipated IGO signatories, its main activities are focussed on drafting accession, procurement and IP policy documents. Among the 13 current SKAO members, only New Zealand has confirmed that it will not contribute to the SKA beyond pre-construction; a number of countries including Canada are therefore exploring mechanisms for participating in the IGO. Permission for NRC to participate in the CPTF as an Observer was obtained in April 2019. This represents an important step forward for Canadian participation in SKA1 construction and operations, with Full IGO Membership, Associate IGO Membership or an alternate Collaborative Agreement all being explored.

SKA Science Data Challenges offer an opportunity for the astronomical community to familiarize itself with the kind of data that SKA1 will produce in order. They inform the development of data reduction workflows, including demonstration of the quality and reliability with which one may extract science from the images to be provided by the SKA Regional Centres. The first Science Data Challenge focussed on SKA1-Mid radio continuum source detection and characterization. The next Challenge will feature datacubes containing HI emission and absorption, and is in the planning stages. Keep an eye on the SKA Canadian email exploder for the announcement, or check the main SKA web page.

As SKA1 ramps up towards construction, a large number of scientists, engineers, software designers, and support and administrative personnel will be hired, both in the UK and in the host countries (South Africa and Australia). Those interested should keep an eye on recruitment.skatelescope.org, which includes a “job alert” tool to set up personalized emails filtered by field of expertise, location, duration and employment type (permanent, contract, secondment, etc.). There are many opportunities to dip your feet in SKA waters, both for those not quite ready to take the plunge into permanent employment as well as those seeking permanent jobs. Expect this area to heat up significantly over the next year!

For more information and updates on the SKA:

JCMT Update

By / par Chris Wilson (McMaster University, JCMT Board Member for Canada)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2019)

New Large Programs to Start in 2020A

There have been a number of new large programs approved by the JCMT TAC and Board. These new programs will start collecting data in February 2020 and on average will take 3 years to complete. There will be an open enrolment period early in 2020. At this time, any researchers or students at Canadian institutions are eligible to join whichever of the large program(s) they are interested in. This opportunity will be advertised on the JCMT website and I urge you all to have a look at the new programs to see if there are any you would like to join. Depending on progress in other areas, this could be the last round of JCMT large programs for which Canadian researchers are eligible. Descriptions of the approved large programs will likely appear here.

Science

Results continue to pour out from the JCMT large programs. From the BISTRO survey, Simon Coudé et al (2019, ApJ) have used the Davis-Chandrasekhar-Fermi method to measure a plane-of-sky magnetic field strength of 120 ± 60 μG in the Barnard 1 cloud in Perseus. From the S2COSMOS survey, Simpson et al. (2019, ApJ) have published a catalog of 1147 bright submm sources across 2.6 square degrees of the COSMOS field. From STUDIES, Lim et al. (2019, ApJ, in press) have used a catalog of 256 sources to measure their luminosity function 450 μm as well as median redshifts and dust temperatures. From JINGLE, Lamperti et al. (2019, MNRAS) have applied a hierarchical Bayesian analysis to study the dust properties of 193 nearby galaxies. Results are also being published from the second generation of large programs. From the HASHTAG survey of M31, Li et al. (2019, ApJ, in press) used 12 fields surveyed in CO(3-2) to study the CO line ratios and correlation with star formation rate. From the NESS survey of evolved stars, Dharmawardena et al. (2019, MNRAS) used 450 and 850 μm observations of the detached shell source U Antliae to explore the shell structure, grain sizes, and measure the total dust mass.

The JCMT Users Meeting was held in Taipei in early November. The program included reports from most of the large programs, an update on the observatory status by Director Paul Ho, and presentations of individual results by students, postdocs, and senior researchers. The full program, including slides for many of the talks, is available here.

Observing and Proposals

Although the weather improved significantly early in the 19A semester, overall the weather statistics in 2019 have been worse than the historical average. In addition, the JCMT was closed for 27 consecutive nights due to the protests related to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope that blocked safe access to the summit. Since November 1, 2019, the JCMT has been carrying out fully remote observations from a control room in Hilo. Observers and students are still welcome to visit to observe from Hilo and to visit the telescope at the summit.

The fact that the CADC continues to host the JCMT data archive is maintaining our access to JCMT large programs for the moment. However, Canadians remain ineligible to apply as PIs for time on the JCMT and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. This is because we are not able to contribute any cash to JCMT operations. However, I encourage anyone who has a good idea for JCMT observations to reach out to colleagues in the U.K. or the EAO partner regions (China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) to see if they would be interested to partner on a proposal. Band 5 weather contains to remain undersubscribed and counts as “free” in the time-allocation process.

New and Future Instrumentation

The 230 GHz-band receiver, RxA3m, was retired from the telescope in June 2018 due to increasing problems with helium leaks in its cryostat, among other problems. A replacement receiver called Namakanui has now arrived in Hawaii and is currently undergoing commissioning. It is expected to be available for science early in 2020. This receiver is on loan from ASIAA (Taiwan) and is the spare receiver for the Greenland Telescope. It is a 3-band receiver design; the 230 GHz-band cartridge is known as U’u.

A team of Canadian universities led by McMaster is preparing a proposal for the CFI 2020 Innovation Fund competition to seek to contribute funding to constructing a new 850 micron camera for the JCMT. This camera is planned to have 20 times faster mapping speed than SCUBA-2 with dual-polarization capabilities.

The JCMT website can be found here.