European Radio Astronomy Consortium

Newsletter Issue 10/2023

Using ALMA, Astronomers Discover First Step Toward Planet Formation

Using ALMA, Astronomers Discover First Step Toward Planet Formation

An international research team led by Project Assistant Professor Satoshi Ohashi of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) has conducted high-resolution and multi-wavelength observations of a protoplanetary disk around a relatively young protostar, DG Taurus (DG Tau), using ALMA to study the structure of the disk and the size and amount of dust, the material for planets. The team achieved results that revealed the first step in the process of planet formation. Read here the ALMA press release for more information.

Image: © ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), S. Ohashi, et al.; High-resolution ALMA imagery of the protoplanetary disk surrounding DG Taurus at a 1.3 mm wavelength. The smooth appearance, absent of ring-like structures, indicates a phase shortly preceding planet formation.

Astronomers detect most distant fast radio burst to date

Astronomers detect most distant fast radio burst to date

An international team of scientists led by Dr Stuart Ryder/Macquarie University and Prof. Ryan Shannon/Swinburne University of Technology, has spotted a remote blast of cosmic radio waves lasting less than a millisecond. This 'fast radio burst' (FRB) is the most distant ever detected. Its source was pinned down by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in a galaxy so far away that its light took eight billion years to reach us. The FRB is also one of the most energetic ever observed; in a tiny fraction of a second it released the equivalent of our Sun’s total emission over 30 years.

The discovery of the burst, named FRB 20220610A, was made in June last year by the ASKAP radio telescope in Australia.

Read the paper published in Science on 19 October 2023 and the ESO press release here.

Image: © ESO/M. Kornmesser; This artist’s impression (not to scale) illustrates the path of the fast radio burst FRB 20220610A, from the distant galaxy where it originated all the way to Earth, in one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms. The source galaxy of FRB 20220610A, pinned down thanks to ESO’s Very Large Telescope, appears to be located within a small group of interacting galaxies. It’s so far away its light took eight billion years to reach us, making FRB 20220610A the most distant fast radio burst found to date.

Astronomers discover ultra-fast radio bursts in archived data

Astronomers discover ultra-fast radio bursts in archived data

An international team of researchers led by Ph.D candidate Mark Snelders (ASTRON and University of Amsterdam) has discovered radio pulses that last only millionths of a second. With this it has been proven that previously discovered fast radio bursts (FRBs) can last even shorter than a thousandth of a second, giving life to the term ‘ultra-fast radio bursts’. Read more.

Image: © Daniëlle Futselaar/www.artsource.nl

IRAM: Measuring the distances of luminous galaxies in the early Universe

IRAM: Measuring the distances of luminous galaxies in the early Universe

Using the NOEMA observatory, an international team of scientists has measured the precise distances for a large (135 sources) sample of the brightest galaxies selected from surveys done with the Herschel telescope. Robust values of the distances were derived for all sources, based on the detection of at least two emission lines for each object, making it the largest sample of high-z galaxies with unambiguous redshifts to date, and doubling the number of Herschel galaxies with such measurements. The results are published in three papers that appeared this week in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Read here the full IRAM press release.

Image: © IRAM/CNRS; Combined continuum and emission lines maps of selected sources from the z-GAL survey showing the diversity of the observed galaxies.

Ultracompact: The Black Hole at the center of our Milky Way

Ultracompact: The Black Hole at the center of our Milky Way

Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have succeeded in measuring the black hole mass from the motion of luminous gas that is seen swirling around Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It matches the measurement honoured with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020. Conclusion: the 4.3 million solar masses are contained within an orbit smaller than that of Venus around the Sun. Read the MPE press release here.

Image: © MPE; This image shows the motion of the flares on the sky from a combined fit of the astrometric flare data, taking into account constraints from the polarimetry data. The colours indicate the progression of the flare orbit over time. The background image is a simulated image of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way with the circle indicating the shadow size of the black hole.

Francesca Primas from ESO Awarded by Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Francesca Primas from ESO Awarded by Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Francesca Primas, full astronomer at ESO, has been honoured with the inaugural Nancy Grace Roman Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Primas is the first person to receive this award, which was introduced this year to recognize significant contributions to promoting gender equity and inclusion in astronomy and related fields.

Read here the ASP ress release.




Commission Work Programme 2024 adopted

The 2024 Commission Work Programme was adopted on 17 October 2023. The Work Programme puts a strong focus on simplifying rules for citizens and businesses across the European Union. It reflects on the achievements of the past four years, outlines the Commission’s new proposals for the months ahead and presents significant initiatives aimed at cutting red tape. Read more here.

Deadline extension for Horizon Europe calls following Hamas’ terrorist attacks across Israel

In light of the disruptions caused by the fallout of Hamas’ terrorist attacks across Israel, the European Commission has carefully assessed the challenges experienced by partner organisations in the region.

In line with the European Union’s commitment to foster inclusivity and collaboration among our research community members, the European Commission would like to inform that it has decided for an exceptional extension of several Horizon Europe call cut off dates, allowing more time to submit applications.

The calls for which deadlines will be extended for all applicants, irrespective of the country where the organisation is based, are the following:

• The ERC Starting Grant Call will be extended from 24 October to 7 November;

• The ERC Synergy Call will be extended from 8 November to 15 November;

• The EIC Accelerator will be extended from 19 October to 8 November;

• The EIC Pathfinder will be extended from 18 October to 25 October.

Read more here.

2nd ESFRI Stakeholders Forum Meetup

The 2nd ESFRI Stakeholders Forum Meetup was held on 27 September 2023. It  presented an excellent opportunity for the RI and the broader stakeholder community to exchange ideas, opinions and policy propositions in specific hot issues pertaining to the funding of RIs, how they treat user access and how they connect to industry and Technology Infrastructures. Participants created a fertile environment where also clear indications of the aims and directions of the future RI Work Program and of FP10 were formed.

A summary report on key points of these discussions can be found here, while for those who wish to delve into the full experience, the recordings of all sessions and breakouts are available for viewing here

Feedback on the Meetup is welcome by filling out this short questionnaire. The answers will help assess your satisfaction with the event and make improvements in the future.

ESFRI celebrates the election of José Luis Martínez as its next Chair

ESFRI is pleased to announce the election of Professor José Luis Martínez as its next Chair. José Luis Martínez is a Research Professor at the Material Science Institute (ICMM), from the Higher Research Council (CSIC), in Madrid/Spain.

The Term of Office of the new Chair will commence in January 2024 with a two-year duration.



Transnational Access CALLS:

Open e-Merlin Call - Cycle 17

Open e-Merlin Call - Cycle 17

The e-Merlin call for proposals for Cycle 17 is now open. Read the call here. Please use the e-MERLIN proposal tool to submit your proposal. Access/funding is offered through the ORP (Opticon RadioNet Pilot) project.

Deadline for proposal submission: 2 November 2023, 13:59:59 UT. 


European ALMA Regional Centre

The European ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) provides the interface between the ALMA project and the European science community. The ARC is staffed by scientists with expertise in radio astronomy and interferometry and it supports its users throughout the lifetime of a project, from proposal preparation to data analysis. Users that want to visit an ARC node for a face-to-face visit can apply for funding through the ORP project. 

Westerbork Apertif Long Term Archive

ALTA offers to the world-wide astronomical community free virtual access to data and scientific products produced from all sky surveys of the Northern sky that will be conducted with the new Apertif frontend of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), as well as tools to query, further exploit and perform data mining of these products adaptable to diverse research goals. The access/funding offered through the ORP project.

LOFAR Long Term Archive

LTA is a long-established archive and access facility supporting the international LOFAR telescope. It is currently the largest radio astronomical archive in the world already exceeding 45 PB from LOFAR’s past 10 years of operations. The LTA provides a central and key resource for all observed LOFAR astronomical science programs where the data become public within 12 months of first creation. The access/funding is offered through the ORP project.



• Durham University - Postdoctoral Research Position working with SKAO pathfinders – position - deadline 16.11.2023

• ASTRON - Bell Burnell Postdoctoral Fellowship – position - deadline 22.12.2023

• ESO –ELT-AIV CMMS Planner – position – deadline 15.11.2023, Photonics Engineer – position – deadline 15.11.2023, Engineering Internship – position – deadline 31.12.2023, Internship: Science Communication – position – deadline 31.12.2023, Intership: Science Presenter at ESO Supernova – position – deadline 31.12.2023

• University of California San Diego – Assistant Professor of Astronomy – position – deadline 30.06.2024

Check also EURAXESS



• ARGOS: Science Priorities for a European Wide-Field Radio Interferometer – 24-27.10.2023 – Heraklion/GR

• IAU Symposium 386 - Dark Sky and Astronomical Heritage in Boosting Astro-tourism around the Globe – 13-17.11.2023 – Addis Abeba/ET

• Radio 2023 – 14-17.11.2023 – Bochum/DE

• ISYA2023 – 19.11.-09.12.2023 – Cape Town/ZA

• XVII Latin American Regional IAU Meeting – 27.11-01.12.2023 – Montevideo/UY

• ERC Annual Conference 2023: Research on Diversity & Diversity in Frontier Research – 28.11.2023 – Brussels/online

• 5th Shaw–IAU Workshop on Astronomy for Education – 29.11-1.12.2023 – online

• UK SKAO Science Committee Town Hall (2023 Edition) - 30.11.2023 – London/UK

• ALMA at 10 years: Past, Present, and Future – 04-08.12.2023Puerto Varas/CL

• 9. Annual Science at Low Frequencies (SALF) conference – 11-15.12.2023 – Amsterdam/NL & online

• Meerkat @ 5 conference – 20-23.02.2024 – Stellenbosch/ZA

• IVS 2024 General Meeting – 4-9.3.2024 – Tsukuba/JP

• 7th LOFAR Data School – 15-19.04.2024 – Dwingeloo/NL

• CAP 24 – 24-28.06.2024 – Toulouse/FR & online

• EAS2024 – 01-05.07.2024- Padova/IT

• European ALMA school – 10-12.09.2024 – Manchester/UK

• IAU General Assembly – 06-15.08.2024 – Cape Town/ZA

 See also the Calendar




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