Category Archives: PACE news

ALMA Director visited PACE

The new ALMA director Dr. Sean Dougherty, appointed in February 2018, visited the Portuguese ALMA Center of Expertise at the end of October.

Dougherty is a renowned radio astronomer, former director of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, and Canada’s national radio astronomy facility. He also led the construction and delivery of the WIDAR correlator for the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA) and is currently leading the international consortium designing the correlator-beam former for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).

During his visit PACE members had the opportunity to show our current activities and a brief summary of the past achievements and future challenges. In the afternoon the Director gave a plenary talk at the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon, explaining to the audience the successes and the new science opened in the last 10 years by this fantastic facility.

The ALMA Director Dr. Sean Dougherty just behind some of the array antennas in Atacama.

Visiting Santa Maria Island, in Azores

PACE has been invited by the ‘Regiao Autonoma de Azores’ and the RAEGE consortium to visit the Colombo station in the Azores Island of Santa Maria. Equipped with 3 receivers in bands S (2.2 – 2.37 GHz), X (8.15 -9GHz), and Ka (21.77 – 24.45 GHz), this 13.2 m radio telescope is part of the International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry (IVS) network (RAEGSMAR). During this visit, resident RAEGE scientists described to PACE researchers the capability and the performance of the telescope, in order to explore the possibility of future synergies with such a valuable instrument.

A Picture taken by the PACE representative, José Afonso, during the visit.

PACE at WFI Meeting

PACE members participated in the international Athena-WFI meeting (see link for the detailed programme), held on the end of November at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. The Wide Field Imager (WFI) is an instrument that will be mounted on the Athena Space Observatory, an X-ray telescope designed to address fundamental questions in Astrophysics involving high energies. The launch is scheduled for 2031, and PACE explored during the meeting potential synergies between Athena and millimetre and submillimetre Astronomy.

Report from the ALMA Data Processing workshop

The PACE, in collaboration with the ESO, organized an “ALMA Data
Processing Workshop” held in Lisbon on 5th, 6th, and 7th of December and funded by RadioNet consortium (website: The goal of the workshop was to bring together all the community which were planning to use ALMA data in the future, and join them together for different hands-on sessions. The organizers, together with expert invited speakers from the ARC nodes of UK and Netherlands, guided the participants from raw to reduced
data, in two days and half of full work.

Group Photo

A total of 19 astronomers attended the workshop, coming from ten different countries: Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, UK, Spain, and of course Portugal. As expected, the most represented communities were Portugal and Spain, for logistics reasons. 37% of the participants were female, and more than half of the participants were PhD or Master students. Beyond the participants, the organizers invited two expert speakers from the ARC node of the UK, Dr. George Bendo, and from Netherlands, Dr. Ciriaco Goddi, which work as ALMA data analysts in their respective ALMA nodes.

An important aspect to underline is that almost 63% of the participants were not experts in interferometry, and approached the topic for the first time. This is very positive, as the main goals of the workshop was exactly to attract young scientists towards the use of interferometric data.

We hope that in the future PACE will continue this  path, organizing other events, with the idea to help the European radio community.


[RadioNet has received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 730562]


An ALMA Data Processing Workshop funded by RadioNet in Lisbon

PACE in collaboration with the ESO and the RadioNet consortium, is glad to announce that an “ALMA Data Processing Workshop” will take place in Lisbon on 5th (afternoon), 6th, and 7th of December.

The huge increase of the data available on the archive has improved enormously the possibility for the scientific community to exploit the potential of this fantastic instrument. However, there are still many issues related to the non friendly nature of interferometric data, which need different processes to be transformed in scientifically useful data.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together all the community which is planning to use ALMA data and put them together on an hands on session. We will guide the audience from the raw data towards scientifically exploitable data in 2 and half days of intense work. Furthermore, if someone has already in mind which data to use, the workshop will provide the perfect environment where to start your work.

The program together with logistic details will be soon available through the website.
We also inform the participants that fellowships are available for a small number of students, covering the travel and the accommodation.

Ciro Pappalardo, Jose Afonso, Sandra Homem, Eva Lopes
Ciro Pappalardo, George Bendo, Ciriaco Goddi, Dirk Petry

This event has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730562 [RadioNet]

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.