Since the last IRAM Newsletter, earlier this year, many important things have happened at IRAM. At the Plateau de Bure interferometer, the New Generation Receivers performed as expected and, despite a winter with rather poor 'winter conditions', first-class observations could be performed. The increased sensitivity of the receivers allows today for detection of sub-mJy lines in a single track, and the detection in the continuum of many (up to six) proto-planetary disks using the snap-shot mode in less than one track. First papers, based on these results, have already been submitted for publication.
The New Generation Receivers together with the extended baselines make the Plateau de Bure interferometer the world leading facility of its kind, enabling to explore astronomical sources in the dust continuum emission and in the molecular gas at both high sensitivity and sub-arcsecond angular resolution. Such angular resolutions are comparable to those obtained with the largest optical ground-based telescopes. A total of 15 Letters, based on results obtained using the extended configurations, have been published this year in Astronomy & Astrophysics (including a special issue with 11 papers in June 2007). Their abstracts are given in this Newsletter at the end of the 'Scientific Results in Press' section.
The implementation of new receivers will continue with the 2 mm band, which is planned to be installed this fall and to become available during the winter period. In 2008, receivers operating at 0.8mm will be brought to the Plateau de Bure, and will hopefully be available during the following winter. Together with the new broadband correlator, which will be installed in 2008/2009, this will complete the current cycle of major upgrades of the 'new' Plateau de Bure interferometer.
At the IRAM Executive Council meeting in June 2007, the Associates approved an extraordinary contribution to replace (in 2008 and 2009) the degraded carbon fiber panels of two interferometer antennas with aluminum panels, which are known to be robust and long-lasting under the harsh (winter) conditions of the Plateau de Bure. This will ensure a long lifetime and a better surface accuracy for the Plateau de Bure interferometer antennas, which will become mandatory when observations at the highest frequencies (i.e. 350 GHz) will start with the 0.8 mm receivers. The new panels will also considerably reduce antenna maintenance overheads and therefore increase the available overall observing time.
At the 30-meter telescope, HERA, the 1.3mm multi-beam heterodyne instrument, is more and more requested and is producing excellent mapping results of molecular gas in nearby galaxies and unprecedented deep, large-scale maps of galactic star-forming regions.
An important new impact will come next year with the installation of a new generation large band single pixel heterodyne receiver on Pico Veleta including for the first time a performant 350 GHz channel. To continue excellent observing also in the continuum with the 30m telescope IRAM has started to explore ways to develop next generation wide field continuum instrumentation.
IRAM will soon issue a Call for Proposals to build a wide field bolometer camera operating at millimeter wavelengths to be installed at the IRAM 30-meter telescope not later than 2011. To prepare this call, a call for Letters of Interest was issued in April 2007 to see which groups would like to participate in this project and five institutes responded.
Finally, we are glad to announce that the IRAM Partners (CNRS, MPG and IGN) have signed an extension of the IRAM Contract until 2014. This contract, which was originally signed for a period of 30 years, would have ended in 2009.