ALMA Matters

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By / par Brenda Matthews (ALMA)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hiver 2021)

Cycle 8 and Canadian ALMA Allocations

Cycle 8 observations began on September 30, 2021. The array is currently in Configuration 6, and the array configurations will gradually contract over the coming months.

This cycle, PIs from Canadian institutions were allocated nearly 8.4% of the available time for North American projects on the main 12m-Array, which is above the nominal 7.125% Canadian fraction. Globally, almost 20% of all allocated projects had at least one Canadian on the proposal.

Over the lifetime (so far) of the ALMA observatory since Cycle 0, Canadian PI projects were allocated 6.3% of the North American fraction. Over the past three cycles, Canadian PI projects were allocated 7.6%.

Analytics on Dual Anonymous Peer Review for Cycle 8 shows that the DPR reduced nearly all biases, with the exception of native English fluency and a modest bias against first time proposers.

Cycle 9 Pre-announcement

The pre-announcement for the Cycle 9 Call for Proposals is scheduled for 16 December 2021. The new capabilities planned for Cycle 9 will be announced at that time.

VERTICO Update

A Canadian-led ALMA Large Program has completed the largest imaging survey of molecular gas—the fuel needed for star formation—in one of the most extreme regions of the Universe, the Virgo Cluster.

The VERTICO—Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide—Survey observed the gas reservoirs in 51 galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster and found that the extreme environment in the cluster is robbing galaxies of their star-forming fuel. The recent survey paper led by Dr. Toby Brown, Plaskett Fellow at HAA, was published Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series and provides the clearest evidence yet that the environment surrounding galaxies can reach far within the galaxies and perturb their molecular gas.

For those who would like further information, there is the National Research Council press release, Conversation article, and YouTube video to accompany the paper.

Visualize Data in the ALMA Archive with CARTA

The ALMA Archive has recently incorporated the Cube Analysis and Rendering Tool for Astronomy (CARTA) into the ALMA archive. With CARTA you can quickly visualize ALMA data products interactively in the archive without spending the time and bandwidth downloading them to your personal computer. In particular, some imaging products are being stored in the ALMA archive, like the ARI-L imaging products from early ALMA cycles. ARI-L images can be explored with CARTA and the downloaded in a science ready form. The successful integration of CARTA is nationally exciting since CARTA was initially developed in Canada using ALMA Development funding based on prototype work from Canada’s CyberSKA project. For more information on using CARTA in the ALMA archive, see this site and for more information about the CARTA project in general, see the CARTA page.

Video Tutorials for New ALMA Users

The NAASC is pleased to announce a new YouTube channel for the ALMA Primer Series of video tutorials. The platform currently hosts several short video tutorials designed to explain aspects of ALMA and interferometry, such as estimating sensitivities for proposals, understanding the largest angular scale, and the ins and outs of weighting schemes.

Screenshot from the tutorial video “Weighting in Imaging”.


The site will be populated as well with short animations from the videos suitable for use in seminars and live training. New videos will be added from time to time.

Check out and subscribe, here!

Band 6 Upgrade Approved

The ALMA Board met in November, and one of the key outcomes was the approval of an upgrade to ALMA’s Band 6 capabilities. The upgrade will improve ALMA’s bandwidth and spectral line sensitivity in the most productive ALMA band. A special session will take place at the upcoming AAS meeting (#239) during which plans for increased wideband sensitivity will be presented

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