European Radio Astronomy Consortium

Newsletter Issue 11/2023

Extreme stars share unique properties that may provide a link to mysterious sources

Extreme stars share unique properties that may provide a link to mysterious sources

An international research team led by Michael Kramer and Kuo Liu from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn/DE have studied a rare species of ultra-dense stars, so called magnetars, to uncover an underlying law that appears to apply universally to a range of objects known as neutron stars. This law gives insight into how these sources produce radio emission and it may provide a link to the mysterious flashes of radio light, Fast Radio Bursts, that originate from the distant cosmos. The results have been published on 23 November 2023 in Nature Astronomy.

Read more.

Image: © Michael Kramer / MPIfR; Artistic impression of a magnetar, where a neutron star emits radio light powered by the energy stored in the ultra-strong magnetic field, causing outburst which are among the most powerful events observed in the Universe.

ALMA Telescope Captures Highest Resolution Observations ever

ALMA Telescope Captures Highest Resolution Observations ever

An international team of astronomers has collaborated to improve the capabilities of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), one of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Scientists from the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Joint ALMA Observatory, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), and European Southern Observatory have achieved the highest resolution observation since ALMA began operations.

See the results the Astrophysical Journal (ALMA High-frequency Long Baseline Campaign in 2021: Highest Angular Resolution Submillimeter Wave Images for the Carbon-rich Star R Lep, https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2310.09664).

Read more in the ESO press release and in the NRAO press release.

Image: © ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Y. Asaki et al.; This image of R Leporis, a star in the final stages of its evolution, is the highest resolution image ever achieved with ALMA. It has an angular resolution of 5 milli-arcseconds, equivalent to seeing a 10-metre-long bus on the Moon. It was achieved using the ALMA Band 10 (high-frequency) receivers and an array configuration with a maximum baseline length of 16 km, as well as a novel calibration technique. Submillimeter-wave emission from the stellar surface is shown in orange and hydrogen cyanide maser emissions at 891 GHz are shown in blue. The observations show that the star is surrounded by a ring-like structure of gas and that gas from the star is escaping to the surrounding space.

Astronomers capture formation of a powerful cosmic jet

Astronomers capture formation of a powerful cosmic jet

The RadioAstron mission opened a new window on the universe. Using a network of radio telescopes on Earth and in space, astronomers have captured the most detailed view ever of a jet of plasma shooting from a supermassive black hole at the heart of a distant galaxy. The jet travels at nearly the speed of light and shows complex, twisted patterns near its source. A helical magnetic field is threaded to the jet and plays an important role in its formation.

These patterns challenge the standard theory that has been used for 40 years to explain how these jets form and change over time.
The findings are published in Nature Astronomy (26 October 2023, Antonio Fuentes et al., DOI: 10.1038/s41550-023-02105-7): The filamentary internal structure of the 3C 279 blazar jet. Read more here.

Image: © NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration; VLBA/Jorstad et al.; RadioAstron/Fuentes et al., entangled filaments in the blazar 3C 279. High resolution image of the relativistic jet in this source as observed by the RadioAstron program. The image reveals a complex structure within the jet with several parsec-scale filaments forming a helix shape.  The array includes data from radio telescopes around the world and on Earth orbit, among them the 100-m Radio Telescope Effelsberg.  Data were postprocessed at the correlator centre of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.

A supermassive black hole’s strong magnetic fields are revealed in a new light

A supermassive black hole’s strong magnetic fields are revealed in a new light

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration has published new results describing for the first time how light from the edge of the supermassive black hole M87* spirals as it escapes the black hole's intense gravity. This signature, known as circular polarisation, is a consequence of the rotation of the electric field in the radio waves. As it travels, it carries information about the magnetic field and types of energetic particles around the black hole. The new work supports earlier findings from the EHT that the magnetic field around the M87* black hole is strong enough to occasionally prevent the black hole from swallowing nearby matter. Read the publication Polarimetric Geometric Modeling for mm-VLBI Observations of Black Holes in  Astrophysical Journal Letters (F. Roelofs, M.D. Johnson, A. Chael, M. Janssen, M. Wielgus, and the EHT Collaboration, The Astrophysical Journal, 8 November 2023, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/acff6f). Read more in the EHT press release, the MPIfR press release, the ALMA press release and the JIV-ERIC press release.

Image: © George Wong, a computer simulation of a disk of plasma around the supermassive black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy. A new analysis of the circularly polarized, or spiraling light, in EHT observations shows that magnetic fields near the black hole are strong. These magnetic fields push back on infalling matter and help launch jets of matter at velocities near the speed of light out.

ALMA Observations Unveil Gas Recycling Process Near a Supermassive Black Hole

ALMA Observations Unveil Gas Recycling Process Near a Supermassive Black Hole

An international team of scientists has delved into the heart of the Circinus Galaxy's active galactic nucleus using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Achieving an unprecedented resolution of about one light-year, the research, led by Takuma Izumi (Assistant Professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), has illuminated the intricate dance of gas flows around the galaxy's supermassive black hole, encompassing plasma, atomic, and molecular phases. The team has elucidated the accretion flow that feeds the black hole and their findings broadens the path for a for a more detailed understanding of the growth dynamics of supermassive black holes.

The observation results were published by Takuma Izumi et al. in Science, Supermassive black hole feeding and feedback observed on sub-parsec scales (DOI: 10.1126/science.adf0569).

Read the ALMA press release here.

Image: © ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), T. Izumi et al., the distributions of carbon monoxide (CO, reflecting the presence of medium-density molecular gas), atomic carbon (C, reflecting the presence of the atomic gas), hydrogen cyanide (HCN, reflecting the presence of high-density molecular gas), and the hydrogen recombination line (H36α; reflecting the presence of ionized gas), are shown in red, blue, green, and pink, respectively. There is an active galactic nucleus at the center. This galaxy is known to have a tilted structure from the outer to the inner regions, with the central region resembling a nearly edge-on disk. The size of the central dense gas disk (green) is approximately six light-years: this has been observed thanks to the high resolution of ALMA (see the inset for the zoom-up view). The plasma outflow travels almost perpendicular to the central dense disk.




European Research and Innovation Days 2024

The European Research and Innovation Days will take place on 20 and 21 March 2024 both physically in Brussels and online.

This European Commission’s annual flagship Research and Innovation event brings together policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and public and offers an important platform for shaping the future of research and innovation in Europe and beyond. Read more.

ERA monitoring 2023: 18-month review of the implementation of the ERA policy agenda

Read here the first 18-months review (EU-level report) of the progress towards the priority areas for joint action in the European Research Area (ERA), as laid down in the Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe, and of the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda.

This review report serves as a baseline against which future progress at EU-level can be assessed.

EU and Canada conclude negotiations for association to Horizon Europe

On 24 November 2023, at the Canada-EU Summit European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the conclusion of negotiations for Canada's association to Pillar II of Horizon Europe. It marks a significant milestone in the commitment to foster mutual collaboration in research and innovation. Read more.



Transnational Access CALLS:


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.



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

• ESO – Telescope Instruments Operator – position – deadline 13.12.2023, 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

• Chalmers/Astronomy and Plasmaphysics division – Postdoc positions – positions – 30.11.2023/01.12.2023

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

Check also EURAXESS



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

• The future of Astroparticle Physics in Europe - 7.12.2023 - Belgium/BE

• 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

• European Research and Innovation Days – 20.-21.03.2024 – Brussels/BE & online

• EGU24-G2.4 Global Geodetic Observing System: VLBI component merit /   - Vienna/AT & virtual - 14–19.04.2024

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

• The AtLAST Design Study: results, science, and next steps -– 21- 24.05. 2024 – Mainz/DE

• 1st Nordic Meeting on Neutrino and Radio Astronomy – 27-30.05. 2024 - Gothenburg/SE

• 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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