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Upcoming Events

7th VLA Data Reduction Workshop
Oct 7 - 18, 2019 | Socorro, NM

ALMA2019: Science Results and Cross-Facility Synergies
Oct 14 - 18, 2019 | Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Jansky Lecture: Dr. Anneila Sargent
Dec 5, 2019 | Charlottesville, VA

NRAO Town Hall
Jan 7, 2020 | Honolulu, HI

Jansky Lecture: Dr. Anneila Sargent
Feb 7, 2020 | Socorro, NM

2020 Jansky Fellowship Program

Karl G. Jansky

The Jansky Fellowship Program supports outstanding postdoctoral scientists and engineers whose research is broadly related to the mission and scientific goals of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which operates three world-class research facilities: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the Very Large Array, and the Very Long Baseline Array.

As a Jansky Fellow, you will have a unique opportunity to contribute to and learn from the development and delivery of the largest and most capable radio telescopes in the world. Research that employs NRAO telescopes in multi-wavelength collaborations is encouraged. Candidates with interests in radio astronomy techniques, instrumentation, computation, and theory are encouraged to apply. Applicants should describe how their research or technical interests couple with NRAO telescopes or science.

Appointments may be made at either of the NRAO sites: Socorro, NM, or Charlottesville, VA. In compelling cases, a ‘split appointment’ Jansky Fellowship split between a university and an NRAO site, or a ‘non-resident’ Jansky Fellowship hosted at a university within the United States may be offered. Non-resident Jansky Fellows are encouraged to develop a research program that fosters close ties with the NRAO, and should present a compelling case why residence at their proposed host university will accomplish this. They are also strongly encouraged to make frequent and/or long term visits to NRAO sites during their Fellowship.

All Jansky Fellows are expected to spend at least 75% of their time on self-directed research. Jansky Fellows are also encouraged to spend 10-25% of their Fellowship on activities related to the development and delivery of radio astronomy techniques, capabilities, or outreach activities, using those opportunities to develop their own broad skill set.

The NRAO Jansky Fellowship Program provides numerous opportunities for early career scientists and engineers to acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of the state-of-the-art in radio astronomy science and instrumentation to establish themselves as innovative, independent research scientists and engineers. Jansky Fellows are encouraged to develop research collaborations with NRAO scientific staff, scientists at U.S. universities, and their colleagues in the international astronomical or instrumentation community. An annual, multi-day NRAO Postdoctoral Symposium fosters collaboration between Jansky Fellows and the Observatory’s scientific staff.

The starting salary for the 2020 Jansky Fellowship program will be $68,500 per year for an initial two-year appointment with possible renewal for a third year. A research budget of up to $17,000 per year is provided for travel and computing support. Fellows are also eligible for page charge support, vacation accrual, health insurance, and a relocation allowance. NRAO can provide up to $3,000 per year to non-NRAO host institutions to defray local institutional expenses.

The deadline for 2020 Jansky Fellowship Program application materials, including letters of reference, is Friday, November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm EDT. Award offers will be made starting in early January 2020. Fellowships normally begin in September 2020.

Visit the Jansky Fellowship Program webpage for more information and instructions on how to apply. Questions or assistance with the application procedure, as well as requests for additional information on the Jansky Fellowship Program may be sent to

NRAO is an equal opportunity employer.

VLASS Completes its First Epoch of All-sky Observations

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On 16 July 2019, the VLA Sky Survey (VLASS) observed the final block of the VLASS1.2 observing campaign that started in March. Combined with VLASS1.1 observations taken in 2017-2018, this marks the completion of the first epoch of observations of the entire sky visible to the VLA. A further two epochs are scheduled for VLASS, with VLASS2.1 commencing in May 2020 reprising observations carried out in VLASS1.1 with a 32-month separation. The entire survey, planned to be carried out in six consecutive cycles with the VLA in its B-configuration, will complete observations in 2024. In total, 33885 square degrees of sky north of declination -40 degrees are covered by the survey, which is described in Lacy et al. 2019 (submitted to AAS Journals). Initial Quick Look data processing of VLASS1.2 is ongoing, and will be completed in the next month.

Raw visibility data is available from the NRAO archive after observation, and calibration products a short time (1-2 weeks) afterwards. Quick Look images are available online after completion of image processing. These Quick Look images are adequate for many scientific uses, but are not designed to meet the survey requirements for imaging due to the simple imaging heuristics used to create images on a short timescale for transient discovery. In particular, the flux density uncertainty for a typical high signal-to-noise detection is ~ 15%, and the positional accuracy is limited to ~ 0.5 arcsec (see VLASS Memo 13). The VLASS team is working on making higher quality (Single-Epoch) images in Stokes I, Q, and U, with in-band spectral index maps and spectral cubes with 128 MHz channels.

NAASC Conference and Workshop Grant

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The North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) invites scientists to apply for funding in support of upcoming conferences and workshops. There is no restriction on the number of participants nor on the geographic location. Applications for conferences or workshops covering any wavelength and/or topic are welcome. Priority will be given to events that will highlight synergies with ALMA.

The NAASC will provide monetary funding (up to $25,000) to organize an inclusive event, encouraging the participation of students, postdocs, and early career researchers as well as promoting diversity within the scientific community. The NAASC will help to advertise the event and, if needed, it may also provide logistical support including hosting the conference by providing a venue (NRAO Auditorium, ~60 people maximum), setting up the website event, and handling registration.

For this first announcement, applications can be submitted anytime for upcoming conferences in Calendar Year 2020. Decisions will be announced within 4-6 weeks of submission. Applications will be accepted while funds are available. If you are planning an event after 2020 or need advice developing your idea, please contact Anthony Remijan and Loreto Barcos-Muñoz.

For more information about the grant, please visit the NAASC Conference and Workshop Grant website.

ALMA Ambassadors Postdoctoral Program

2019 ALMA Cycle 7 Ambassadors during their training in February at the NRAO headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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The North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) is now accepting applications for the 2020 ALMA Cycle 8 Ambassadors Postdoctoral Program. The Program provides training and up to a $10,000 USD research grant (other forms of payment are available, see below) to postdoctoral researchers interested in expanding their ALMA/radio interferometry expertise and sharing that knowledge with their home institutions (other alternatives possible) through the organization of ALMA Cycle 8 proposal preparation workshops, and by serving as the local ALMA expert to colleagues up until the proposal deadline.

The NAASC will host selected postdocs at the NRAO headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia on 11-13 February 2020 to receive in-depth training. Training will include topics related to ALMA proposal writing, including: interferometry basics, ALMA science capabilities, recent ALMA headlines, Observing Tool use, and guidance with speaking on these topics. The training also includes a poster session where ALMA Ambassadors are expected to show their own science to fellow ambassadors, and the local astronomical community, including NRAO staff. Selected postdocs must host a proposal preparation workshop at their home institution or an alternate place – similar to an abbreviated version of Community Day and NRAO Live! events from previous observing cycles – in advance of the Cycle 8 ALMA proposal deadline in April 2020, as well as make themselves available to help their local community between the call for proposals and the deadline.

The NAASC will provide travel support for the training, as well as all talk materials, supplies, and infrastructure for the workshops hosted by the ALMA Ambassadors. Up to a $10,000 monetary grant is offered in support of the selected postdocs' independent research programs. If the awardee is not able to receive the monetary grant, the NAASC can offer up to $10,000 in science travel reimbursement (must be used within 12 months of training) or up to $10,000 for the host institution to support students or summer researchers. Postdocs with some radio or submillimeter interferometry experience are preferred. Postdocs must be based at a North American institution. If you do not meet these requirements, but are interested in learning more about the training we are offering, please contact Loreto Barcos-Munoz to discuss possible opportunities. Although not required, we will consider multiple postdoctoral applicants from the same institution or region.

Deadline to apply is 21 October 2019. For more information, please visit the ALMA Ambassadors website.

ALMA Program News

S. Otarola

Winter at the ALMA site, with the array in extended configuration.

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Cycle 7 Time Allocation
On 1 October  2019, the new science observing cycle (Cycle 7) will begin at ALMA. There will be 4,300 hours available for observations with the 12m array. It was the task of the 158 astronomers on the ALMA Review Panels meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in June to make a scientific assessment of the 1,773 proposals requesting 19,148 hours (12m array) that were received last April in response to the Proposal Call. One result was that 34% of the available time was awarded to 133 North American proposals with Grade A or B. Of the fourteen Large Programs that requested time, the Observatory will allocate 280 hours to four Large Programs. Details may be found at the ALMA Science Portal.

Cycle 7 Supplemental Call
A Supplemental Call for Proposals for the stand-alone Atacama Compact Array (ACA) is expected to be released on 3 September 2019 with a proposal deadline on 1 October 2019. Since the Supplemental Call follows the Main Call by five months, the Supplemental Call will maximize the scientific output of the ACA by allowing more timely science to be proposed. Proposals accepted in the Supplemental Call will be scheduled for observations between January 2020 and September 2020.

The Supplemental Call will be open to Regular Proposals (i.e., no Large Programs) without time constraints that propose to use standard observing modes, as allowed for ACA stand-alone proposals in the Main Call. Proposals may request to use the 7-m array only, or the 7-m array plus Total Power array. At least 750 hours will be offered in the Supplemental Call. Proposals accepted in the Cycle 7 Supplemental Call will receive priority Grade C and will have lower priority than ACA proposals accepted in the Cycle 7 Main Call. Proposals submitted in the Supplemental Call will be peer reviewed using a distributed system in which each proposal team selects a designated reviewer to participate in the review process.

Cycle 6 Science Observing
The ALMA antennas have been contracting from their most extensive configurations and early August will find the array in its C43-7 configuration – 3.6 km maximum baseline, 100 GHz beam at a resolution of 0.21 arcsec. Atacama Compact Array (ACA) observations continue. The ALMA array will gradually move to shorter baselines over the next few months, ending Cycle 6 in the C43-6 configuration.

ALMA announces ACA observatory filler programs for Cycle 6
The ALMA Observatory announces six filler programs that have been approved on the Atacama Compact Array (ACA). The programs are designed to fill a gap in the ACA observing schedule in June-July 2019 during Cycle 6. The programs were selected based on input from scientists at the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the ALMA Regional Centers. The proposed programs were reviewed by staff in the Department of Science Operations at the JAO with final approval by the ALMA Director. Please refer to the ALMA Science Portal for details on the programs.

Fourth ALMA Science Conference
The ALMA partnership is organizing the Fourth ALMA Science Conference in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) on 14-18 October 2019. At the conference the full breadth of ALMA science will be discussed, with special emphasis on results from the first rounds of ALMA Large Programs, ALMA's high resolution and high frequency capabilities, the new Solar and VLBI modes, as well as the synergy between ALMA and other observatories. As in previous editions of the conference series, we expect to discuss the scientific priorities for the implementation of the ALMA Development Roadmap. A schedule of talks is available. Owing to the very large response, registration has closed, and additional prospective participants may register on a waiting list basis only.

Science Ready Data Products Pilot Underway

The Pilot phase of the NRAO Science Ready Data Products (SRDP) initiative is underway. This represents a major NRAO milestone to improve the user experience for radio interferometry data from the VLA and ALMA by providing users with broader access to science quality data. In the first phase of the pilot, we have deployed a new NRAO archive interface and have begun conducting Quality Assurance (QA) reviews on VLA pipeline runs for some datasets.

The new archive interface is currently serving Jansky VLA and ALMA data; historical VLA, VLBA, and GBT data will be made available later. A key feature now available in the archive is the ability to download calibrated measurement sets for both the VLA and ALMA. For ALMA, this service is available for Cycle 5 and later cycles, and it is available for VLA data that were successfully calibrated by the pipeline after August 2016. Manual calibrations from ALMA are not currently available for download as a calibrated product. The calibrated measurement sets are generated on-the-fly upon request. Any archive user can restore a non-proprietary dataset from the VLA or ALMA. Proprietary data can only be restored by authorized users. Anonymous requests for non-proprietary data are also currently possible, but may change in the future.

The QA of VLA data builds upon the robustness of the VLA calibration pipeline, operating since 2013. A more rigorous QA process began in June 2019 for A and B-ranked projects taken in Ku, K, Ka, and Q-bands. The QA process includes the application of additional flagging and pipeline re-runs with additional flagging, if necessary, with the goal of having the data ready for the PI to image after QA is complete. The QA process makes VLA data more immediately useful to the PIs and the archived data products more science ready.

SRDP continues to extend features available through the archive interface, providing users with additional tools for data discovery and processing. In the next few months, users will be able to request imaging of ALMA datacubes within the archive without the need to download the dataset. See the SRDP website for further details.

Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena in the Multi-Messenger Era

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The NRAO is pleased to announce that it will convene a science conference titled Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena in the Multi-Messenger Era. This conference will be held 14-16 July 2020 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. Details and deadlines will be posted in the coming weeks on the conference webpage.

Now, at the dawn of the multi-messenger era, electromagnetic waves, high-energy particles, and gravitational waves are jointly revealing previously-hidden clues into the workings of compact objects. These clues are guiding observers, theorists, and computational researchers to new and deep insights about compact objects. Stunning progress has been made in understanding the energetic mergers, and merger aftermaths, of neutron stars and stellar-mass black holes. This promises to illuminate evolutionary studies of black holes on all mass scales, whether they are alone, in bound binaries, or merging. The role of other compact objects – like supernovae, pulsars and active galactic nuclei – as Nature's particle accelerators can now be examined widely and in detail.

Since size equates to time, insights about compact objects are benefiting hugely from multi-messenger studies in the time domain. This conference will emphasize the state of research on compact objects that leverages on multi-messenger information. The conference will also be forward-looking to help planners define an interoperable suite of multi-messenger facilities for the 2030s and beyond.

Arizona Radio Observatory Call for Proposals

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The Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) solicits observing proposals for the ALMA Prototype 12-meter Telescope (12m) located on Kitt Peak, Arizona, and for the 10-meter Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) located on Mount Graham, Arizona, for the period October 15, 2019 – February 15, 2020.  Proposal candidates should submit up to three pages of scientific and technical justification (including figures, tables, and references) in addition to their Proposal Summary Sheet (download 2019B form).
All proposal candidates are required to list on the 2019B Proposal Summary Sheet their requested observing blocks (the exact LST ranges to be scheduled and number of times to be repeated), dates on which they are not available to observe, and dates in which sources in those observing blocks are within the Sun-avoidance zone (45 degrees at the SMT, 10 degrees at the 12m).

The 12m ALMA Prototype antenna currently supports dual-polarization sideband-separating (SBS) observations in three bands: 4mm (66 – 90 GHz), 3mm (84 – 116 GHz), and 1mm (211 – 275 GHz).  Observations with the new 4mm and 1mm receivers are shared-risk for the 2019B season.  The 12m control system supports dual-polarization in the same sideband or single-polarization in each sideband (“2 IF mode”; fixed 6.0 GHz IF frequency), position-switched, beam-switched, and OTF observations.  Backend modes for the AROWS spectrometer may be found on the ARO Equipment Summary and Status sheet.

The 10m SMT currently supports dual-polarization sideband-separating (SBS) observations at 1mm (211 – 280 GHz) and dual-polarization double sideband observations at 0.8mm (325 – 370 GHz).  The SMT is the preferred site for 1mm observations.  The SMT control system supports both dual-polarization ("2 IF mode") and dual-polarization + dual-sideband observations ("4 IF mode") with tunable IF from 4.5-7.5 GHz, for position-switched, beam-switched, and OTF observations.  Proposal candidates should consult the ARO Equipment Summary and Status sheet for additional technical specifications.

Remote observing is available. Observers who plan to observe remotely must supply fixed IP address(es) of the computer(s) that will be used during observing on their Proposal Summary Sheet. For further information about remote observing and other operational questions, please contact Tom Folkers, ARO Software Engineer.

Proposals will be reviewed by the ARO TAC and scheduling of successful proposals will be done according to availability of the receivers requested.  The telescopes are expected to be available to the general astronomical community for a minimum of 10 percent of the scheduled time. Graduate student participation is especially encouraged. Institutions (or individuals) that wish to acquire longer commitments of time should contact Buell Jannuzi, Director.

Next deadline for proposals is 23:59 MST on August 29, 2019.
Proposals should be emailed in PDF format to:

2020 Submillimeter Array Interferometry School

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Applications for the 2020 Submillimeter Array (SMA) Interferometry School are now being accepted, details of which can be found at the school website.

The school will be held 12-17 January 2020 at the facilities of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, following the Winter American Astronomical Society Meeting in Honolulu. The school will provide a series of lectures focusing on fundamentals of radio interferometry, with a special emphasis on the Submillimeter Array (SMA) interferometer and its new capabilities. The school will also extensively utilize the SMA, located on Maunakea, providing hands-on experience of actively performing observations and data reduction for projects proposed by school participants.

Registration will close 8 September 2019. Admitted and waitlisted students will be notified by 1 October 2019.

SMA Call for Standard Observing Proposals – 2019B Semester

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We wish to draw your attention to the latest Call for Standard Observing Proposals for observations with the Submillimeter Array (SMA). This call is for the 2019B semester with observing period Nov 16, 2019 - May 15, 2020.

Standard Observing Proposals
Submission deadline: 05 September 2019 (US/Europe)/06 September 2019 (Taiwan)
Proposal Information and Submission 

The SMA is a reconfigurable interferometric array of eight 6-m antennas on Maunakea jointly built and operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The array operates in the 230, 345 and 400 GHz bands, observing simultaneously with two orthogonally polarized receivers, one in the 230 GHz or 345 GHz band and the other in the 240 GHz or 400 GHz band (with full polarimetric observations available using the 230+240 or 345+400 band combinations available in shared-risk mode only in 2019B). The SWARM correlator processes 8 GHz bandwidth for each receiver in each sideband, for a total of 32 GHz, at a uniform 140 kHz resolution. This 32 GHz frequency coverage can be continuous where the tuning ranges overlap for the two orthogonally polarized receivers.   The SMA provides flexible, wide band frequency coverage that delivers high continuum sensitivity and excellent spectral line capabilities. A full transit observation offers continuum sensitivity of 250 or 600 micro-Jy (1 sigma) at 230 or 345 GHz in good weather conditions (precipitable water vapor 2.5mm and 1.0mm, respectively). The corresponding line sensitivities at 1 km/s resolution are 35 and 80 mJy. The small antennas allow access to low spatial frequencies in the sub-compact configuration, and at the other extreme, the finest angular resolution with the very extended configuration at 345 GHz is ~ 0.25". The compact and extended configurations complete the range. The characteristics and performance of the SMA are both similar and complementary to those of the stand-alone Atacama Compact Array (ACA) component of ALMA. For more information about SMA capabilities, visit the SMA Observer Center website and explore the set of SMA proposing tools. Current and archived SMA Newsletters provide a sampling of the wide variety of science possible with the SMA.

For more details visit the SMA Observers Center Proposal Information Page.

Due to current and expected investment in further upgrades to the SMA capabilities, as well as obligations to previous approved programs, the Large Scale Projects program (for projects requesting 100 to 1000 hours) will not be accepting proposals at this time.

Questions or comments regarding the Call for Standard Observing Proposals may be addressed to

Career Opportunities

Associate Scientist/Research Engineer: The NRAO seeks a Research Engineer with expertise in millimeter/submillimeter wavelength electronics. The selectee will be a member of the NRAO Scientific Staff and will lead the millimeter/sub-millimeter receiver group (approximately 7 engineers and technicians) in the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, VA.  The Research Engineer will play a leading role in a program of design and development of low-noise millimeter/sub-millimeter wavelength instrumentation for astrophysical observations. This has been identified as a key NRAO technology for the next generation of radio telescope instrumentation and is a high-priority component of CDL’s strategic plan. The position entails both independent research and functional responsibilities. The selectee will work with colleagues to develop second next generation millimeter and submillimeter low-noise receiver technology that may be deployed on ALMA and on future instruments.

Astronomer (Tenure Track): The NRAO is seeking to appoint three new tenure-track scientists, one in each of the following focus areas: astronomical instrumentation and technologies, ALMA science, and ngVLA key science. The appointment in the astronomical instrumentation and technologies focus area will be based at the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, VA. The appointee will carry out R&D in one or more of the areas of CDL focus, developing technology and instruments essential for the future needs of world-class radio astronomy research, working where appropriate in partnership with the astronomy community and industry. The appointment for the ALMA science focus will be to the staff of the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) in Charlottesville, VA.  The appointee will be expected to play a significant role in contributing to the science relevant to ALMA, including identifying and developing future scientific priorities for ngVLA and the NRAO, and building support for those priorities within the North American and international astronomy community. The appointment for the ngVLA key science area will be to the staff of NRAO’s New Mexico Operations department in Socorro, New Mexico. NRAO activities in New Mexico comprise the operation of the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and a variety of technical support functions for ALMA-NA, as well as being the center of the next generation VLA (ngVLA) design and development project. The appointee will be expected to contribute to the science relevant to the ngVLA, including identifying and developing future scientific priorities for ngVLA and the NRAO, and building support for those priorities within the North American and international astronomy community.

Assistant Director for Science Support & Research: The NRAO is seeking to recruit an Assistant Director for Science Support & Research (AD/SSR). Science Support & Research (SSR) is the Observatory-wide function supporting all scientific users of NRAO instruments, and overseeing the scientific research of the NRAO staff. This is an opportunity for an experienced scientist, with a track record of management and leadership, to take on an influential role in the senior management team of one of the world’s leading observatories. The appointee will help shape the mode of delivery of data to a global community of astronomers (the Science-­Ready Data Products (SRDP) project), and contribute to the definition and planning of the Next Generation VLA. The AD/SSR is responsible for managing time allocation and the proposal handling processes for the VLA and VLBA which are operated by NRAO, and for the GBT which is operated by the Green Bank Observatory (GBO).  The AD/SSR is tasked with ensuring a uniform and effective interface for NRAO’s and GBO’s user communities across all their telescopes and taking account of the ALMA review process which is the responsibility of the Joint ALMA Observatory. The AD/SSR manages staff responsible for common scientific services provided in support of our instruments, and coordinates outward­-facing activities across all sites to minimize duplication and achieve optimal efficiency in support of all users of NRAO facilities.

Scientist/ Research Engineer (Open Rank): The Central Development Laboratory (CDL) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory seeks a Research Engineer with expertise in novel millimeter-wave detectors, low temperature sensors, superconductors, and millimeter/submillimeter wavelength electronics for astrophysical observations. The position is at the CDL campus in Charlottesville, VA, and reports to the Director of the CDL. The selectee will be a member of the NRAO Scientific Staff and will lead the observatory’s effort in developing the next-generation of millimeter wave/sub-millimeter wave detectors, to include leading our on-going work on Traveling-Wave Kinetic Inductance Parametric (TKIP) amplifiers. The selectee will also be a member of CDL’s millimeter/sub-millimeter receiver group currently working on a program of Superconductor-Insulator-Superconductor (SIS) junction-based designs in the development of low-noise millimeter/sub-millimeter wavelength instrumentation for use on the ALMA telescope and on other instruments around the world.

From the Archives

From the Archives

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About this month's photo: AIPS and FITS turned 40 last month. At the beginning of the 1990s, there were efforts to develop a new astronomical data processing package, referred to as AIPS++. The vision of AIPS++ was to improve research productivity of the radio astronomy community by unifying new astronomical algorithm and software ideas with state-of-the-art computing technology. It was undertaken as a cooperative venture, with multiple observatories around the world committing staff time to the project and sending people to Charlottesville for a year-plus to work jointly on the project. This photo was taken at the 12-14 December 1994 AIPS++ Review Panel meeting. Thanks to Gareth Hunt for the photo, to Gareth and Darrell Schiebel for identifications, and to Darrell for inserting the name labels.

From the Archives is an ongoing series illustrating NRAO and U.S. radio astronomy history via images selected from our collections of individuals' and institutional papers. If readers have images they believe would be of interest to the Archives, please contact Ellen Bouton.

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