News from the JCMT

By / par Chris Wilson, McMaster University (JCMT Board member for Canada)
(Cassiopeia – Summer / été 2019)


There have been a lot of exciting new scientific results from the JCMT in the last 6 months. Probably the most famous of these was the announcement by the team from the Event Horizon Telescope (of which JCMT is a component) of the imaging of the black hole shadow in M87. This black hole also has a Hawai`ian name, Powehi, largely due to outreach efforts by the Deputy Director of the JCMT, Dr. Jessica Dempsey.

Another big splash was the discovery of rapidly spinning jets from the V404 Cygni black hole in our own Galaxy, recently published in Nature (Miller-Jones et al., 2019). Previous work by Dr. Alex Tatarenko and her collaborators with the JCMT and the SMA had demonstrated the rapidly evolving nature of this jet and laid the groundwork for the recently-published VLBA observations.

Results continue to pour out from the JCMT large programs, including the second paper from the JINGLE nearby galaxy survey by Dr. Matt Smith et al., which describes in detail the data reductions methods used to process SCUBA-2 observations of faint but somewhat extended targets.

Observing and Proposals

The weather has improved significantly in the 19A semester, ending a period of extremely poor weather that had lasted for more than a year.

The next call for proposals (for 20A) will come out in August and will be due 15 September 2019. This call will include both PI and Large Programs. Details about the large program call can be found here.

I anticipate that Canadians will be eligible to apply for PI time on the JCMT for semester 20A. (We were not eligible in 19B because of the ramp down of operations contributions due to the end of the NSERC RTI Operations and Maintenance grant.) Band 5 weather continues to be undersubscribed and so good ideas to use this weather are strongly encouraged. By 20A we should again have a working 230 GHz-band receiver on the JCMT (see next section).

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 was originally scheduled to be on the telescope by March 2019 but due to various issues is now expected to be available in semester 19B. This receiver is based on the 3-band receiver design being used at the Greenland Telescope; the 230 GHz-band cartridge is known as U’u.

The EAO held a very successful “Submillimetre Futures” meeting in Nanjing May 20-23, 2019. A major focus of this meeting was plans for a new 850 micron camera to replace SCUBA-2. Preliminary designs suggest that a camera with a 12 arcminute-wide field of view and higher sensitivity detectors would have a mapping speed up to 20 times faster than SCUBA-2. It will also have excellent polarization capabilities. All talks from the meeting can be viewed at the meeting web site.

The EAO is soliciting White Papers in support of this new 850 micron camera, with a deadline of June 30, 2019. More information can be found on the JCMT web site and on the EAO futures discussion wiki.

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 this new 850 micron camera.

Upcoming Meetings

The 2019 JCMT Users Meeting will be held in Taipei, Taiwan November 6-7, 2019. A JCMT workshop covering from proposing to data analysis will be held November 5 and November 8 will be set aside for Large Program side meetings. For more information, please visit the large program website.

JCMT website

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