ALMA Matters

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From / de Gerald Schieven
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2018)

New Horizons Conference Pre-registration Open


Pre-registration is now open to the conference: “New Horizons in Planetary Systems”, to be held in Victoria from 13-17 May 2019. Pre-registration and more information is available here. Registration and abstract submission will open in October.

The meeting is planned to have a broad scope, including planetary systems in formation within protoplanetary disks, minor objects in the solar system, debris disks and exoplanets. Experts will be asked to provide insights from all these fields to enhance our understanding of how planets form and evolve. Though co-organized by NRAO and the NRC Herzberg millimetre astronomy group, the meeting is not ALMA-centric, and has a strong focus on the impact of the New Horizons mission flyby of a KBO in January 2019, plus experts from TESS and other facilities who will be asked to provide a multi-chromatic picture of the current understanding in their fields. Invited speakers have been asked to provide broadly accessible talks.

Confirmed invited speakers include:

Diana Dragomir (MIT Kavli Inst): Early results from the TESS mission
Brett Gladman (UBC): theory of planet formation
Grant Kennedy (U Warwick): debris disk constraints on planet formation
Heather Knutson (Caltech): exoplanet atmospheric composition
Emmanuel Lellouch (Observatoire de Paris): solar system objects, constraints on formation
Karin Öberg (Harvard U): protoplanetary disk composition and chemistry
John Spencer (SWRI): New Horizons KBO flyby: first results
Zhaohuan Zhu (UNLV): protoplanetary disk structure

We will also host a public talk on New Horizons by Deputy Mission Scientist Kelsi Singer (SWRI).

Canadian Cycle 6 ALMA Allocations

Projects with PIs from Canadian institutions were again disproportionately successful in obtaining time in Cycle 6. Allocations were announced at the end of July. Of the 44 Canadian PI proposals submitted (a record), 10 were awarded 217 hours of high priority time (17 (for 323 hours) including grade C “fallback” projects). This represents 9.7% of the North American allocation of high priority time. Though lower than the fraction allocated in Cycle 5 (partly due to Canadian participation in a Large program), this is significantly higher than in Cycles 1-4. Note that Canada has a 7.246% stake in the North American share of ALMA.

Globally, there were Canadian (i.e. investigators from Canadian institutions) on 19.4% of all proposals that were awarded high priority time.

There were 27 unique Canadian PIs and 93 individuals as PI or coI proposing for ALMA this cycle; both these numbers are record highs for all cycles.

ALMA Development Roadmap

ALMA is approaching completion of its initially envisaged capabilities and, within the first five years of operations, the original fundamental science goals of ALMA have been essentially achieved. The ALMA Board established a Working Group to develop a strategic vision and prioritize new capabilities for the Observatory out to 2030 as part of the ALMA Development Program. The ALMA Board approved the resulting ALMA Development Roadmap in November 2017, which you can download from here.

According to the vision in the Board-approved Roadmap, the current development priorities as based on scientific merit and technical feasibility, are:

  • to broaden the receiver IF bandwidth by at least a factor two, and
  • to upgrade the associated electronics and correlator.

These developments will advance a wide range of scientific studies by significantly reducing the time required for blind redshift surveys, spectral scans, and deep continuum surveys. In order of scientific priority, receiver upgrades are recommended for intermediate (200-425 GHz), low (< 200 GHz), and high (> 425 GHz) frequencies.

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