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The ALMA Quest for Our Cosmic Origins

ALMA Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Chile

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A Symposium to Honor Pierre Cox

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) is hosting the Symposium "The ALMA Quest for Our Cosmic Origins" to be held at the JAO offices in Vitacura, Santiago on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. The Symposium is in honor of Pierre Cox service as ALMA Director from 2013 to 2017. Under Pierre's leadership, ALMA transitioned from early science to essentially full operations with all antennas operational, achieving high-profile and stunning science results, including impressive images in many astronomical areas.

The symposium will consist of a series of talks that showcase the latest ALMA  results on galaxies, star formation, circumstellar disks, and evolved stars.

SOC (Science Organizing Committee)

  • John Carpenter (Chair)
  • Loreto Barcos-Muñoz
  • Antonio Hales
  • Sergio Martín
  • Laura Pérez

LOC (Local Organizing Committee)

  • John Carpenter (Chair)
  • Daphne Elliott-Patterson
  • José Pinto
  • Nicolás Lira 


If you need to contact the LOC or the SOC please send an email to science.events@alma.cl.

* The registration ticket is free. There is no fee associated with the event. You won't need to print it and bring it. 


Available presentations from the speakers can be downloaded all here or one by one in the programme.

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March 27 2018


Opening Words - Stuartt Corder


9:30 - The new era of continuum and molecular deep field science enabled by ALMA - Manuel Aravena

A brief review of the current state of blank-deep field observations of the extragalactic universe that has been enabled by the great sensitivity of ALMA. These projects concentrate on the detection of the cold dust and molecular gas reservoirs in the gas-rich galaxies in the early universe. In particular, I will present preliminary results from our ALMA Spectroscopic Survey of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (ASPECS), which corresponds to the first ALMA large program awarded and observed.

9:50 - The VALES survey: a new look to the molecular gas content in low-redshift galaxies - Eduardo Ibar

Eduardo Ibar will present a new extragalactic survey that characterizes dusty galaxies at low redshifts: the Valparaíso ALMA Line Emission Survey (VALES). He will then introduce the use of ALMA Band-3 CO(1-0) and APEX SEPIA Band-5 CO(2-1) observations to study the molecular gas content in a sample of ~100 main-sequence (and starburst) star-forming galaxies up to z=0.35. The galaxies are far-IR bright [L_IR/Lo = 10^(10-12)Lo] emitters selected from the H-ATLAS survey over ∼160 deg^2 and present a rich wavelength coverage. They have spectroscopically detected (>5sigma in a previous Herschel campaign) 27 galaxies in [CII] and ~60 galaxies in CO, facilitating a characterization of the ISM state in some of these galaxies via PDR modeling. One-third of the ALMA targets are spatially resolved in CO, facilitating exploration of the global Schmidt-Kennicutt law, and a kinematical interpretation of the star-formation activity. A non-negligible fraction of galaxies is found to be molecular gas-rich (f_gas>30%), fractions which are similar to those found in normal high-redshift star-forming galaxies. Eduardo will show the prospects of this campaign by introducing the follow-up campaigns we are leading from Valparaíso.

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10:10 - Physical conditions of the ISM in high-redshift lensed submillimeter galaxies - Chentao Yang

Recent surveys at submillimeter bands have discovered hundreds of strongly lensed high-redshift submillimeter galaxies (SMGs), opening new exciting opportunities for follow-up studies of their ISM. We have thus carefully selected such a sample of z~2-4 SMGs and conducted the largest studies of the submillimeter H2O lines at high-redshift. The dominance of far-infrared pumping excitation is confirmed for the H2O lines, offering a unique diagnostic of both the far-infrared field and the dense warm molecular gas. With a large multi-J CO line survey, we find the CO ladders are consist of at least two excitation components, being similar to those of the local star-bursting ULIRGs. Using LVG modeling, they derive the gas properties and discover a tight correlation between gas pressure and star formation efficiency. Using the ALMA high spatial-resolution images, they can study the CO, H2O (for the first time), and dust emission in sub-kpc scale and modeling the gas kinematics.

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10:30 - The ALMA Frontier Fields Survey and the interstellar medium of strongly lensed galaxies - Jorge González

The HST Frontier Fields survey represents the efforts of pushing the limits on the detection of high-redshift galaxies. I will present results from The ALMA Frontier Fields Survey: a 1.1 mm mosaic campaign over the inner Frontier Fields, with the goal of finding strongly lensed dusty star-forming galaxies. I will describe our continuum source and emission line detection methodology and characterize the ALMA sources and counterpart galaxies (their redshift identification, intrinsic sizes and global properties, etc). I will also talk about the gas and dust distribution in strongly lensed galaxies and how we can push the limits to study "normal" main sequence galaxies at high redshift. Finally, I will discuss the role that lensing fields can play in future surveys with ALMA.

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ISM / Stars

11:30 - ALMA High angular Resolution Polarisation Study toward an Extremely Young Class 0 Source - Satoko Takahashi

Presenting ALMA polarisation images obtained toward a nearby bright Class 0 source. With the longest baseline currently available with ALMA, we have achieved the spatial angular resolution of 0.025 arcsec that corresponds to the linear size scale of 10 AU. The images demonstrate in great detail of the distribution of material, polarized emission, and changes of measured polarization vectors within a size scale of similar to the solar system. In this talk, I will discuss origins of observed dust polarisation emission in the vicinity of the young protostar. In addition, I will also make comparisons between the observational results and the magnetic field models predicted by the MHD simulations.

11:50 - Deep into the Water Fountains: ALMA observations - Andrés Pérez-Sánchez

Water fountain (WF) nebulae are evolved, low- or intermediate-mass stars (spectral type from K to M) which are embedded in dusty and molecular-rich circumstellar envelopes (CSEs). These Galactic sources are characterized by the detection of high-velocity spectral features of H2O maser emission at 22 GHz (1.3 cm). Given their velocity (>100 km/s), the H2O spectral features are usually associated with jet-like structures that extend over hundreds AU. Nevertheless, the launching and shaping mechanism of such large-scale structures in the CSEs of WF nebulae is still unknown. In this talk, I will present results of ALMA (Band 7) observations of three WF nebulae. We detected high-velocity features of the 321 GHz (0.9 mm) H2O maser transition as well as dust continuum emission. The velocity and spatial distribution of the sub-millimeter maser features relative to the position of the dust continuum peak detected with ALMA suggest that the maser transition is pumped in dense molecular layers around the jet-like outflows. The propagation of J- and C-shocks might be related not only to the pumping of the H2O rotational transitions but also to the mechanism shaping the CSEs of WF nebulae.

12:10 - Polarization in the ALMA era - Chat Hull

The release of the ALMA polarization system in Cycle 2 heralded the beginning of a new era in millimeter-wave polarization studies. I will review many of these results from ALMA, beginning with early commissioning work and moving all the way through to recent observations of polarization (and magnetic fields -- but only sometimes...) in embedded protostellar cores and protoplanetary disks.

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12:30 Chemistry in planet-forming disks - Viviana Guzmán

What sets the composition of nascent planets is a fundamental question
in astronomy and one that is extremely timely considering the large number of exoplanets with very different characteristics that have been discovered in the past years. Whether these planets can host life depends directly on the volatile composition and distribution of the gas where they form, i.e. protoplanetary disks.
I will present ALMA observations of key organics in protoplanetary disks and discuss how we can use molecular lines to unveil the physical and chemical structure of disks. First, I will present resolved observations of HCN isotopologues -- isotopic ratios are commonly used to trace the origin of Solar System bodies. Second, H2CO, a key intermediate in the formation of more complex species in ices. Contrary to CH3OH, H2CO is readily observable in disks and could thus be used to trace the cold organic reservoir in disks. Finally,
CH3CN and HC3N have been detected in several disks now, and we find consistent relative abundances between disks, protostellar envelopes and comets.

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14:00 - Substructure in Protoplanetary Disks through Radio Eyes - Laura Pérez

The process of disk evolution and planet formation will leave an imprint on the distribution of solid particles at different locations in a protoplanetary disk, resulting in a variety of substructure (gaps, rings, spirals, vortices, clumps, etc.). The role of these features is fundamental: theory predicts that without it large solids would be lost due to radial drift, impeding planetesimal and planet formation. Recent ALMA observations at high angular resolution have been fundamental to show that some form of substructure is present in disks. In this talk, I will review these recent results and highlight the first results from our ALMA Large Program "Small-scale substructure in protoplanetary disks", aimed at characterizing the underlying substructure of a sample of 20 nearby classical disks.

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14:20 - The origin of large cavities in protoplanetary disks - Simon Casassus

Giant planet formation is thought to clear out gaps or central cavities in young circumstellar disks. Such so-called transition disks have therefore been the subject of intense scrutiny, and ALMA, along with extrema AO cameras, have transformed our view of these systems. The sub-mm continuum observations have revealed narrow rings ~10 to 100 AU in radius, which are often also lopsided due to the pile up of the larger grains in dust traps. The sub-mm continuum is now increasly understood to be appreciably optically thick, suggesting very efficient trapping, in remarkable agreement with theory, and pointing to the need for cm-wavelengths observations to further understand links with planetesimal formation. Simultaneously, the
long-sought residual gas inside cavities, thought to be a signpost of dynamical clearing by compact bodies, has been found to substantially deviate from Keplerian rotation. In fact, optical/IR observations have shown that circumstellar disks need not be flat, and some systems can warp at almost right angles. The current trends suggest that the large transition disk cavities are evacuated by massive companions on inclined orbits.

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14:40 - The Demographics of Protoplanetary Disks as seen by ALMA - Lucas Cieza

In addition to providing transformational images of individual protoplanetary disks, ALMA is obtaining fundamental results on disk demographics. Current statistics on extrasolar planets imply that most circumstellar disks should form planets; therefore, it is important to investigate the full distribution of disk properties present in star-forming regions. Protoplanetary disks show a wide range of masses, sizes, surface density profiles, and lifetimes. These different disk properties are likely to drive the diversity of extrasolar planets we see in the Galaxy. In this talk, I will discuss disk demographic studies in nearby molecular clouds and the constraints they impose to both disk evolution and planet formation theory.

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15:00 News on Star Formation from ALMA - Diego Mardones

ALMA observations are providing exquisite views of star-forming sites near and far. I will highlight some of the recent results in low mass and high mass star formation, including spatial distribution of protostars in massive star-forming regions, and outflow launching, inflow signatures, and chemistry on nearby low mass star forming regions. I will focus in particular on Chilean results and indicate some of the open questions, and avoid topics likely covered by other speakers.



15:50 - Molecular gas imaging in the nearby Universe - Sergio Martín

ALMA has clearly become the ultimate molecular gas both within and outside our own Galaxy.
Not only we are now able to reach fainter and/or more distant sources which increase our available nearby sample of galaxies, but it is possible now to observe them at an unprecendented high fidelity. Moreover we are able to image molecular transitions which are thousands of times fainter that the usual carbon monoxide ones, which opens the molecular skies to a wider range of molecular species.
A summary of nearby Universe highlight results will be presented with a specia emphasis on some of the key results in extragalactic astrochemistry which is a clearly emerging field with ALMA.

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16:10 - Physics at High Angular Resolution in Nearby Galaxies (PHANGS) - Guillermo Blanc

I will present early results form the ALMA Large Program PHANGS, a campaign to map the molecular ISM of a volume and mass limited sample of galaxies in the local universe with the goal of understanding the connection between the large and small scale drivers of star formation and the injection of star formation feedback in the ISM. By systematically measuring the properties of ~100,000 GMCs across a wide range of disk environments, we can infer how cloud lifecycle and star forming efficiency depend on local conditions and host galaxy properties, which indicate how galactic dynamical processes and feedback regulate star formation. This survey, which is accompanied by the PHANGS MUSE Large Program on the VLT, and the PHANGS H-alpha Survey on the 2.5m DuPont Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, will bridge the gap between our 1-10 pc scale understanding of star formation and the overall evolution of galaxies on large (1-10 kpc) scales, providing the definitive observational reference for future generations of semi-analytic models and hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy evolution.

16:30 - ALMA’s View of the Arp 220 Disks from 30 pc Resolution Observations of Dense Gas Tracers - Loreto Barcos-Muñoz

New ALMA continuum and line observations of the closest, proto-typical ULIRG, Arp 220. This extremely obscured system is often invoked as the most extreme local star-forming system and so used as a template for starbursts at high redshift. It is evident that understanding its ISM conditions is crucial for star formation and galaxy evolution. Using the most extended configuration available in ALMA Cycle 3, we achieve resolution of 0.08" = 30 pc targeting the optically thin mm-wave continuum and the high critical density tracers HCN, HCO+, their isotopologues, and the shock tracer SiO. This resolution is sufficient to resolve both disks and ideal to compare to our 33 GHz VLA continuum images at the same resolution (Barcos-Muñoz et al. 2015). I will focus mainly on the recent discovery of a molecular outflow in the western nucleus of this galaxy, and present the first 3D image of this fast, collimated outflow. I will also show preliminary results on molecular gas distribution at 0.1” with ALMA in a couple other local mergers.

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16:50 - The ALMA View on Hot Dust-Obscured Galaxies and the Most Luminous Galaxy Known - Tanio Diaz-Santos

An ALMA survey of the [CII] line at 158um in a sample of 7 Hot Dust-Obscured Galaxies (Hot DOGs) at z ~3 to 4.6 reveal a diversity of morphologies and complex kinematic structures, likely reflecting the disturbed dynamical state of these systems, which are at a key stage of their evolution. ALMA has also provided us with a closer look to WISE 2246-0526, the most luminous galaxy known, where very recent deep observations of its FIR dust continuum emission reveal multiple galaxy companions and resolved filamentary structures.

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17:10 - Closing Words - Pierre Cox

17:30 - Reception


Introduce your speakers



Manuel Aravena

Professor at Universidad Diego Portales (UDP) in Santiago Chile, since 2014. Previously, he was ESO postdoctoral fellow in Santiago, and postdoc at NRAO in Charlottesville, VA, USA. His work mostly focuses on the study of the cold gas and dust from galaxies in the early Universe.

Loreto Barcos-Muñoz

Loreto obtained a bachelor in physics from the Universidad de Santiago de Chile. After that, she got a masters and doctoral degree in Astronomy from the University of Virginia, where she focused on the study of luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies with high angular resolution using the Very Large Array and ALMA. She is currently an NRAO/ALMA fellow in Santiago, Chile. Her primary research interests are star formation and galaxy evolution in luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies from a radio/sub-mm perspective.

Guillermo Blanc - Carnegie Observatories

Guillermo Blanc is a staff astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. He is based at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and holds and Adjunct Professor position at the Department of Astronomy of Universidad de Chile. His research is focused on on trying to understand the processes by which galaxies form and evolve throughout the history of the Universe. He does this by studying both galaxies in the local “present day” universe as well as at high redshift, where we can observe the early epochs of galaxy evolution. He is one of the co-PIs of the PHANGS ALMA Large Program, and Survey Scientist of the future SDSS-V Local Volume Mapper program.

Simón Casassus

Full professor at the Astronomy Department, Universidad de Chile (http://www.das.uchile.cl/~simon). His current research topic is on observations of planet-forming systems. He is the PI of the associative group Millennium ALMA Disk (MAD) Nucleus (http://madnucleus.com).

Lucas Cieza

Ph.D. in Astronomy, the University of Texas at Austin. Spitzer and Sagan Fellow at the University of Hawaii. Founding member and first Director of the Astronomy Group at Universidad Diego Portales. Deputy PI of the Millennium ALMA Disk (MAD) Nucleus. His main scientific interests are disk evolution and planet formation.

Tanio Díaz-Santos

PhD at Spanish National Research Council, Spain (2009). Postdoctoral researcher at University of Crete, Greece (2009-2011). Postdoctoral researcher at California Institute of Technology, California, US (2011-2014). Currently ALMA-CONICYT fellow at Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile (since 2014).

His expertise is in the area of galaxy formation and evolution, with special emphasis in investigating the physical properties of the star formation, AGN and interstellar medium of infrared luminous galaxies, in the nearby Universe and at high redshift.

Jorge González

Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) and Heidelberg University. Visitor student in Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany. Postdoctoral researcher at PUC (2015-2017). Currently a CHINA-CONICYT fellow at Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile.

He has worked on galaxy formation and evolution, mainly studying the distribution of molecular gas and dust in the interstellar medium of strongly lensed star-forming high redshift galaxies. Now, he also works in blind searches on submm observations.

Chat Hull

Chat Hull is a NAOJ Fellow of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and is based at the Joint ALMA Observatory in Santiago. Before moving to Chile, he was an NRAO Jansky Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His doctorate is from the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed his love for star formation, polarization, magnetic fields, and radio instrumentation (and where he wrote his very first ALMA proposals!).

Eduardo Ibar

Chilean astronomer, PhD in Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, nowadays associate professor at Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile. His research interests are characterised to develop multi-wavelength analyses for observational cosmology, including evidence for describing galaxy formation and evolution, star-forming galaxies at all redshifts, active galactic nuclei, sub-mm galaxies and in-depth radio surveys.

Diego Mardones

PhD in Astronomy Harvard University. Associate Professor at Universidad de Chile. His work focuses on radio observations of star forming regions, in particular to understand their kinematics. Initially using single dish observations to characterise infall signatures and the internal structure of dense molecular gas cores. Lately using ALMA focusing in part on the study of outflows from low mass protostars.

Sergio Martín

ALMA operations astronomer. Sergio has worked in the operations of most major millimeter/submillimeter facillities, namely the IRAM 30m in Spain, the SMA in Hawaii and NOEMA in the french Alps. His main research line is the study of the astrochemical evolution of galactic nuclei and more recently the origin of life through the study of complex organic molecules in space.

Laura Pérez

Actually working on protoplanetary discs and radio astronomy at Universidad de Chile.

Andrés Felipe Pérez-Sánchez
Fellow, European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Andrés F. Pérez-Sánchez is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA since June 2016. In 2014 Andrés obtained his PhD in Astronomy from the Argelander-Institute für Astronomie - Universität Bonn, Germany. His main research interests are Late-type stars and the evolution of their circumstellar envelopes; Molecular outflows, maser emission and radio continuum emission towards post-AGB stars.

Satoko Takahashi

Satoko Takahashi is an assistant professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) since 2013, as well as an operations astronomer at the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) since 2015. She worked on science operations of the Nobeyama Millimetre Array (NMA) in Japan, the submillimeter array (SMA) in Hawaii. At ALMA, she has been working on high-frequency related commissioning work and calibrator survey. Her scientific interests are pre/protostellar formation and evolution, particularly using thermal dust emission and gas dynamics.

Chentao Yang

Chentao Yang started his research work on the submillimeter H2O lines in a large sample nearby galaxies using Herschel data. Later, he moved his interest to the high-redshift lensed galaxies discovered by the Herschel-ATLAS survey. During his Ph.D., he studied various gas tracers in those lensed high-redshift galaxies, with a substantial amount of datasets from both single-dish telescopes and interferometers like IRAM-30m, NOEMA, JVLA, and ALMA. In November 2018, he moved to Chile joining ESO as a fellow after obtaining the Ph.D. degree. He is now working on high-resolution observations of the high-redshift submillimetre galaxies using multiwavelength data.


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Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Chile