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.


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.

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