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Next: VLBI Observations and Call Up: IRAM Newsletter 60 (July 2004) Previous: News from the Plateau


Call for Observing Proposals for the Plateau de Bure Interferometer

Conditions for the next winter session

Based on our experience in carrying out configuration changes with limited access to the Observatory, we plan to schedule three configuration changes next winter. We therefore ask investigators to submit proposals for all four of the primary configurations of the six antenna array. A preliminary configuration schedule for the winter period is outlined below. Please note that the more compact configurations (C and D) will be available only at the end of January at the earliest. The scheduling priority will later be adapted according to pressure in right ascension ranges and may further be changed during the winter period depending on weather conditions. The configuration schedule should be taken as a guideline, in particular when astronomical targets are requested that cannot be observed during the entire winter period (45$^\circ $ sun avoidance circle).

Conf Scheduling Priority Winter 2004/2005
B November - December
A December - January
C February - March
D March - April

When the atmospheric conditions are not good enough at 1.3mm, 3mm projects will be observed: in a typical winter, 20-30% of the time is found to be poor at 1.3mm, but still excellent at 3mm. We therefore invite proposers to submit proposals also for observations at 3mm.

Call for Proposals

Under normal operating conditions, IRAM schedules and completes between 40 to 60 projects during the winter period, with an average time delay of at least two months between the start and the end of a project. Selection is based on scientific merit, technical feasibility, and suitability for the instrument.

Details of the PdBI and the observing procedures are given in the document ``An Introduction to the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer''. A copy can be obtained from the address below or from the World-Wide-Web at ./IRAMFR/PDB/docu.html. Proposers should read this document carefully before submitting any proposal.

For this call for proposals, please note the following details.

Proposal category

Proposals should be submitted for one of the five following categories:
dual freq.:
Proposals that ask simultaneously for observations at 3mm and 1.3mm.
Proposals that ask for 1.3mm data only. 3mm receivers will be used for pointing and calibration purposes, but the scientific goals of the proposal rely on the 1.3mm receivers.
Proposals that ask for 3mm data only. 1.3 mm receivers can still be used to provide either phase stability information or purely qualitative information such as the mere existence of fringes.
time filler:
Proposals that have to be considered as backup projects to fill in periods where the atmospheric conditions do not allow mapping, or eventually, to fill in gaps in the scheduling, or periods when only a subset of the standard configurations will be available. These proposals will be carried out on a ``best effort'' basis only.
Exploratory proposals: proposals whose scientific interest justifies the attempt to use the PdB array beyond its guaranteed capabilities. This category includes for example non-standard frequencies for which the tuning cannot be guaranteed, and more generally all non-standard observations. These proposals will be carried out on a ``best effort'' basis only.
The proposal category will have to be specified on the proposal cover sheet and should be carefully considered by proposers.

Configurations of the six antennas array

The six antennas can be arranged in four primary configurations. The current configurations for the winter period are:

Conf Stations
D W05 W00 E03 N05 N09 N13
C W12 E10 E16 N02 N09 N20
B W12 E04 E23 N07 N17 N29
A W27 W23 E16 E23 N13 N29

The four array configurations can be used in different combinations to improve on angular resolution and sensitivity. Mosaicing is usually done with D or CD, but the combination BCD can also be requested for high resolution mosaics. Enter ANY in the proposal form if the scientific goals can be reached with any of the four configurations or their subsets.

Please consult the documentation on the Plateau de Bure configurations for further details.


All antennas are equipped with fully operational dual frequency receivers. The available frequency range will be 82 to 116 GHz for the 3mm band, and 205 to 245 GHz for the 1.3 mm band. The 3mm and 1.3mm receivers are aligned to within about $2''$.

Below 105 GHz, receivers offer best performances in LSB tuning with high rejection (20 dB): expected system temperatures are 100 to 150 K for the winter time. Above 110 GHz, best performances are obtained with USB tuning, low rejection (4 to 6 dB): expected system temperatures are 250 K at 115 GHz.

The 1.3 mm receivers have DSB tuning with typical T$_{\rm REC}$ below 50 K. Expected SSB system temperature are 350 to 450 K. The guaranteed tuning range is 205-245 GHz, but it may be possible to reach some lower and higher frequencies. Higher frequencies are not feasible on all antennas because of limitations in the triplers, however. For details about observing at frequencies beyond the guaranteed tuning range of the 3mm and 1.3mm receivers, please get in touch with R.Neri.

Signal to Noise

The rms noise can be computed from
\sigma = \frac{\JpK\mbox{$T_{\rm SYS}$}} {\eta \sqrt{\Na (\Na -1) \Nc T_{\rm ON} B}}
\end{displaymath} (1)

where Investigators have to specify the $1\sigma$ noise level which is necessary to achieve each individual goal of a proposal, and particularly for projects aiming at deep integrations.

Coordinates and Velocities

The interferometer operates in the J2000.0 system. For best positioning accuracy, source coordinates must be in the J2000.0 system; position errors up to $0.3''$ may occur otherwise.

Please do not forget to specify LSR velocities for the sources. For pure continuum projects, the ``special'' velocity NULL (no Doppler tracking) can be used.

Coordinates and velocities in the proposal MUST BE CORRECT. A coordinate error is a potential cause for proposal rejection.


The new correlator has 8 independent units, each of which can be placed anywhere in the 110-680 MHz band. 7 different modes of configuration are available, characterized in the following by couples of total bandwidth/number of channels. In the 3 DSB modes (320MHz/128, 160MHz/256, 80MHz/512 - see Table) the two central channels may be perturbed by the Gibbs phenomenon if the continuum is strong. When using these modes, it is recommended to avoid centering the most important part of the lines in the middle of the band of the correlator unit. In the remaining SSB modes 160MHz/128, 80MHz/256, 40MHz/512, 20MHz/512) the two central channels are not affected by the Gibbs phenomenon and, therefore, these modes may be preferable for some spectroscopic studies.

Spacing Channels Bandwidth Mode
(MHz)   (MHz)  
0.039 $ 1 \times 512$ 20 SSB
0.078 $ 1 \times 512$ 40 SSB
0.156 $ 2 \times 256$ 80 DSB
0.312 $ 1 \times 256$ 80 SSB
0.625 $ 2 \times 128$ 160 DSB
1.250 $ 1 \times 128$ 160 SSB
2.500 $ 2 \times 64$ 320 DSB
Note that 5% of the passband are left out at the low and the high frequency ends of each subband. The 8 units can be independently connected either with the 3mm or 1.3mm IFs.

Sun Avoidance

For safety reasons, a sun avoidance circle is enforced at 45 degrees. Please take this into account for your sources AND the calibrators.


The PdBI has mosaicing capabilities, but the pointing accuracy may be a limiting factor at the highest frequencies. Please contact R. Neri in case of doubts.

Data reduction

Proposers should be aware of constraints for data reduction: Data reduction will be carried out on dedicated computers at IRAM. Remote data reduction is possible, especially for experienced users of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer. Please contact R.Neri if you're interested in this possibility.

Local contact

A local contact will be assigned to every A or B rated proposal which does not involve an in-house collaborator. He/she will assist you in the preparation of the observing procedures and provide help to reduce the data. Assistance is also provided before a deadline to help newcomers in the preparation of a proposal. Depending upon the programme complexity, IRAM may require an in-house collaborator instead of the normal local contact.

Technical pre-screening

All proposals will be reviewed for technical feasibility in addition to the scientific review by the programme committee. Please help in this task by submitting technically precise proposals. Note that your proposal must be complete and exact: the source position and velocity as well as the requested frequency setup must be correctly given.

Non-standard observations

If you plan to execute a non-standard program, please contact R.Neri or R.Lucas to discuss the feasibility.


The documentation for the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer includes documents of general interest to potential users, and more specialized documents intended for observers on the site (IRAM on-duty astronomers, operators, or observers with non-standard programs). All documents can be retrieved on the Internet at ./IRAMFR/PDB/docu.html

Finally, we would like to stress again the importance of the quality of the observing proposals. The IRAM interferometer is a powerful, but complex instrument, and proposal preparation requires special care. Information is available in the documentation and at ./IRAMFR/PDB/docu.html. The IRAM staff can help in case of doubts if contacted well before the deadline. Note that the proposal should not only justify the scientific interest, but also the need for the Plateau de Bure Interferometer.

Roberto NERI (

next up previous
Next: VLBI Observations and Call Up: IRAM Newsletter 60 (July 2004) Previous: News from the Plateau