Facilities > ALMA/NAASC > Observing with ALMA: 217th AAS Meeting Special Session

Observing with ALMA: 217th AAS Meeting Special Session

by Dong-Chan Kim last modified May 09, 2011

Special Session, organized by the North American ALMA Science Center
217th American Astronomical Society Meeting | Seattle, WA
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | 2:00 PM PST


The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) will provide an unprecedented combination of sensitivity, angular resolution, spectral resolution, and image fidelity at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, enabling a wide range of transformative research. ALMA will provide observing opportunities at wavelengths from 0.3 mm to 9.6 mm (950 GHz - 31 GHz), a key part of the electromagnetic spectrum, for example, for probing the first stars and galaxies, directly imaging planetary formation, and studying the energy output from supermassive black holes in starburst galaxies.

The first call for ALMA observing proposals is expected in December 2010, while construction continues. Observing proposals will be due two months after the Call for Proposals is distributed, and Early Science will begin six months after the observing proposal submission deadline.

This Special Session will describe this ALMA Early Science opportunity and the tools and support available through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC). Located at the NRAO headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia, the NAASC staff will provide accurate and timely information on ALMA observing modes and capabilities, support users creating proposals, staff an electronic Help Desk, validate observers' scheduling blocks, and provide post-observation user support.

This Special Session will describe the capabilities available for Early Science, including the ALMA Observing Tool (OT) for proposal preparation and submission, the Common Astronomy Software Applications (CASA) package for ALMA science data reduction, an "observing simulator" task, and Splatalogue, an on-line VO-queryable spectral line database.

During Early Science, ALMA is expected to include at least 16 antennas, 4 receiver bands, baselines to 0.25 km, and single field interferometry. A goal is to offer baselines to 1 km and precision imaging of extended sources in continuum and spectral line modes.

Presentation Schedule


Title Speaker Talk Slides
The North American ALMA Science Center, NAASC Carol Lonsdale pdf version
ALMA: The March to Early Science and Beyond Al Wootten pdf version
Tools for the ALMA Users for Early Science Kartik Sheth pdf version
North American ALMA Science Center: Canadian Roles James Di Francesco pdf version
ALMA does Galaxies! A User's Perspective of Early Science Jean Turner pdf version
ALMA from the User Perspective: Galactic Dave Wilner pdf version


The North American ALMA Science Center, NAASC

Speaker: Carol Lonsdale (NRAO-NAASC)

Abstract: The North American ALMA Science Center at the NRAO in Charlottesville will provide user support for ALMA in North America. We will provide a brief overview of the NAASC services for the community for the early phases of ALMA operations.

ALMA: The March to Early Science and Beyond

Speaker: Al Wootten (NRAO-NAASC)

Abstract: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array is rapidly proceeding through its commissioning stages in Chile. Tests at the atmospherically superb 5050m Array Operations Site and readiness reviews held during the Fall of 2010 will result in a decision to issue a call for proposals to use the instrument during its 'Early Science' phase. At the beginning of Early Science, projected for later in 2011, 16 antennas of the final 66 will stand ready to produce the deepest integrations ever achieved in the cool thermal spectral region. The array will be equipped with at least three of its eventual complement of ten receivers operating over a decade of bandwidth from 3.6mm to 0.42mm. At this point, its sensitivity will be on the order of 0.5mJy in a minute's integration. Operating at this stage baselines of at least .25km, ALMA will provide a beam as small as 0".3 on the little-explored southern skies from its Chilean site near the Tropic of Capricorn. By one year later, the array will have grown to more than fifty antennas; at the second call for proposals the array will reach 0.2 mJy in a minute and baselines will extend to the full set of array configurations, effectively about 14 km. Observations which will be made possible by these transformative capabilities will be presented.

Tools for the ALMA Users for Early Science

Speaker: Kartik Sheth (NRAO-NAASC)

Abstract: The first opportunity to use ALMA will be announced shortly in a Early Science Call for Proposals. In this talk, we provide an overview of the Phase I user tools (ALMA Observing Tool, ALMA Sensitivity Calculator, SIMData and Splatalogue) needed for the North American community to plan and propose for observing time with ALMA. We will also provide a brief overview of the phase II tools (Project Tracker, ALMA Science Archive) that will be used by PIs of approved programs to execute their science programs. After observations are complete, users will likely use the ALMA Science Archive and CASA to further examine the data and data products, which will be described briefly.

North American ALMA Science Center: Canadian Roles

Speaker: James Di Francesco (National Research Council-Canada)

Abstract: In partnership with NRAO, North American regional support for ALMA operations will be provided also by the National Research Council of Canada though its Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (NRC-HIA) in Victoria, BC. In this short presentation, we describe the roles the Millimeter Astronomy Group of NRC-HIA will play in providing user support, documentation and observers for ALMA.

ALMA does Galaxies! A User's Perspective of Early Science

Speaker: Jean Turner (UCLA)

Abstract: Star formation and its regulation, rotation curves, dust and gas masses, gas dynamics and secular evolution of galaxies, interactions and mergers, cosmic pyrotechnics, and monster-feeding, are among the many topics that can be studied with ALMA. We talk about many of the explorations of the extragalactic world that are possible with this fantastic instrument in its Early Science incarnation, and discuss how these first generation studies with Early-ALMA compare to what will eventually be possible with the full array.

ALMA from the User Perspective: Galactic

Speaker: Dave Wilner (Harvard-Smithsonian, Center for Astrophysics)

Abstract: ALMA will be transformative for studies of cool components of the Galaxy, in particular the molecular gas and dust in the immediate vicinity of young or evolved stars where arcsecond or higher resolution will be especially valuable to probe structure, dynamics, and chemistry.

At the start of Early Science scheduled for 2011, the subset of available ALMA antennas already will provide spectral line and continuum sensitivity and imaging capabilities that exceed any of the existing millimeter arrays. Using examples from star-forming regions and circumstellar disks, I will illustrate how a prospective ALMA user can realize the fantastic potential of this new facility in the Early Science stage and beyond.