ngVLA Update

By / par Erik Rosolowsky (U Alberta), Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

Figure caption: Artist’s conception of ngVLA antennas at the current site of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in west-central New Mexico. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

NSF Awards Funding for ngVLA Antenna Development

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) $23 million for design and development work on the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), including producing a prototype antenna. The ngVLA, a powerful radio telescope with 263 dish antennas distributed across North America, is proposed as one of the next generation of cutting-edge astronomical observatories.

The ngVLA will include 244 antennas that are 18 meters in diameter, with an additional 19, 6-meter dishes at the centre of the system.

The ngVLA project currently is under review by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. That report is expected this autumn. Following that report, the project will need approval by the NSF’s National Science Board and funding by Congress. Construction could begin by 2026 with early scientific observations starting in 2029 and full scientific operations by 2035.

On May 27, NRAO officials signed an agreement with the firm mtex antenna technology GmbH of Germany to develop a production-ready design and produce the prototype 18-meter antenna. Once built, the 18-meter prototype will be installed at the site of NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in west-central New Mexico, where it will undergo extensive testing.

Building on the scientific and technical legacies of the VLA and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the ngVLA will have sensitivity to detect faint objects and resolving power more than 10 times greater than the current VLA. It is being designed to address fundamental questions in all major areas of astrophysics and provide a major leap forward in our understanding of phenomena such as planets, galaxies, black holes, and the dynamic sky. The ngVLA’s capabilities will complement those of ALMA and other planned instruments such as the lower-frequency Square Kilometer Array.

The ngVLA’s design is the result of extensive collaboration with researchers across the landscape of astrophysics. Through a series of workshops and science meetings beginning in 2015, NRAO worked with numerous scientists and engineers to develop a design that will support a wide breadth of scientific investigations over the lifetime of the facility. Participants from around the world – including Canada – contributed suggestions and expertise that helped guide the design.

See the NRAO press release for additional information.

Chemical Probes of Astrophysical Systems

The NRAO and the ngVLA project will convene a Special Session titled Chemical Probes of Astrophysical Systems on January 13, 2022, at the winter American Astronomical Society meeting. This Special Session will highlight recent scientific breakthroughs in astrochemistry. It will feature invited oral presentations plus contributed poster presentations. If you are attending this meeting and presenting a relevant poster, you can apply to this special session. Special Session presenters are also eligible to present elsewhere at the meeting.

ngVLA Summer Short Talk Series

Recordings from a weekly ngVLA Summer Short Talk Series that ran June through August 2021 are available online. Each presentation addressed open science questions and their connection to present and future observing facilities at all wavelengths. An audience Q&A session accompanied each presentation. The presenter lineup included 2019 Plaskett Medal winner Alexandra Tetarenko and was organized by the ngVLA Science Advisory Council.

Figure caption: Artist’s conception of ngVLA antennas at the current site of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in west-central New Mexico. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

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