Category Archives: PACE news

ALMA Starts Observing the Sun


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.

The damage that was inflicted by the fire in the 15 m Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope.


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.


This ALMA image of an enormous sunspot was taken at a wavelength of 1.25 millimetres. Sunspots are transient features that occur in regions where the Sun’s magnetic field is extremely concentrated and powerful. They have lower temperatures than their surrounding regions, which is why they appear relatively dark. These observations are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where ESO is a partner. They are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the mysterious physics of our nearest star.

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.


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.

PACE member leads article making use of ALMA data

On 25th of August, the article “Herschel-ATLAS and ALMA HATLAS J142935.3-002836, a lensed major merger at redshift 1.027” was published on Astronomy & Astrophysics journal. The research, lead by PACE member Hugo Messias, deals with the nature of a merger of galaxies at z=1.027 as seen by ALMA and other major observational facilities.

A coordinated world-wide press-release was issued by the media departments of institutes involved in this work (including ESO), resulting in a substantial media coverage (see, for example, the articles by El Mundo, CBS news, Forbes, … a compilation of media coverage is presented here).


Start the PACE

It’s official! The Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL) is now part of the European Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) support structure as a Centre of Expertise (CoE). More information here.