A strong effort has been necessary to protect the antennas from the heat, but in the end they succeeded: ALMA started the observations of the Sun.
The lesson has been learned in the hard way: the Swedish–ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST) had a fire in its secondary mirror assembly after the telescope was accidentally pointed at the Sun.
However, this time things went very well, and this week have been released by the ESO a series of images that show the power of this new ALMA capability.
Scientists focused their attention into a well known sunspot, which was observed at 1.25 and 3 millimetres.
These observations probed different layer of the chromosphere, and opened a new frontier in the study of our precious star. For further details you can read the official press release of the ESO where other interesting images are available.
On 16 December 2016 the ALMA website released a pre-announcement of the Cycle 5. The proposal deadline will be on 20 April 2016. The observing Cycle will start on October 2017 span 12 months.
The Cycle will offer 4000 hours on 12-m Array time and 3000 hours on the Atacama Compact Array (ACA). Cycle 5 will offer the same proposal types as in Cycle 4.
Some anticipation about the capabilities:
At least ten (10) 7-m antennas (for short baselines) and three (3) 12-m antennas (for making single-dish maps) in the ACA;
Receiver bands 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 (wavelengths of about 3.1, 2.1, 1.6, 1.3, 0.87, 0.74, 0.44 and 0.35 mm, respectively);
Maximum baselines for the 12 m antenna configurations will vary from 0.15 km to 16 km;
Single field interferometry (all bands) and mosaics (Bands 3 to 9) with the 12-m Array and the 7-m Array;
Single dish spectral line observations in Bands 3 to 8
The opportunities offered for the first time are:
1. Band 4 polarization: Proposals will be accepted for Band 4 observations in all available polarization modes.
2. Band 5 observations: Proposals will be accepted for spectral line (12-m, 7-m and Total Power arrays) and continuum (12-m and 7-m arrays) observations in Band 5. Proposals will be accepted for Band 5 observations in all available polarization modes.
The annual European meeting of the ARC nodes and CoE this year will be held in the Costa de Caparica Hotel.
More than 50 scientists from the different ALMA nodes in Europe will attend this meeting to discuss the strategic lines for the future of ALMA, and the technical improvements of the official data reduction pipeline of the instrument.
The Portuguese Alma Center of Expertise (PACE) will guest the event in collaboration with the ESO-ALMA Headquarter of Garching.