Cosmology with SCUBA-2

The UK National Astronomy Meeting (this year being held in conjunction with the German Astronomical Society) is underway this week in Manchester, UK.  The conference included a specialist session on SCUBA-2 results and it was especially pleasing to see SCUBA-2 data being presented in other sessions also,including one tied to a press release issued by the SCUBA-2 Cosmology Legacy Survey and the Royal Astronomical Society.

You can read the press release, as well as a report by the BBC – don’t forget to listen to the interview on that BBC page with Prof. James Dunlop from the University of Edinburgh, one of the leaders of the SCUBA-2 Cosmology Legacy Survey.


SCUBA-2 press release rolls out

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This week saw the official SCUBA-2 press release go out. The official pages can be found here:

with further imagery at the SCUBA-2 Image Gallery (a selection of which are seen in the slideshow above).

There was also a lot of interest generated in local and national press in various places ranging from Hawaii, Canada, UK and India. And in today’s world, lost of interest generated on Twitter (including some diving sites!). Here is a selection of some sites that I came across – let us know if there are more.

SCUBA-2 warm after 8-months of continuous operation

It doesn’t seem that long ago when one of our major concerns with the SCUBA-2 project was the reliability of the fridge. In March, earlier this year, we installed a liquid Helium cold trap with the aim that it should filter out any contaminants that may have inadvertantly entered the He/He-3 gas mixture.

It’s astonishing how well this has worked. As the graph above shows, the fridge has kept its temperature all the way through the last 8 months, allowing us to control the temperature of the arrays at about 0.09 K. Furthermore, consider that the fridge was designed to only ever be cold for 6  months at a time.

So just this week, we initiated a controlled warm up of SCUBA-2 so that we can carry out some essential maintenance on the refrigeration system. We will be cooling the instrument back down in a few weeks and be ready for more observing with SCUBA-2 at the start of December.

First observers

The first observers from the community are finally at the telescope and observing with SCUBA-2 for the JCMT Legacy Surveys. Here in the JCMT control room you we have (left to right and front) Mark Swinbank (Durham), Isaac Roseboom (Edinburgh) and David Eden (Liverpool John Moores). At the back you can see Jeff Cox, the JCMT telescope systems specialist for the night, making sure that the telescope and instrument are operating smoothly.



SCUBA-2 project passes two huge milestones

Close up detail of dust emission from the inner part of our Galaxy.

This is just a short note to announce that the SCUBA-2 project past two huge milestones this day. First, the instrument was formally accepted by the observatory, and, SCUBA-2 was included in the JCMT Call for Proposals for semester 12A, which will run between February and July, 2012.

The details for the call for proposals can be found here.

SCUBA-2 to be released to the community

The high mass star forming region, DR21, as imaged by SCUBA-2 at 450µm

The following announcement was recently made by Prof. Gary Davis, Director of the Joint Astronomy Centre, to the JCMT community. It marks an incredibly important milestone in the project.

To the JCMT observing community,
It is with great pleasure that I write to announce the imminent
release of SCUBA-2 for science observing!

We are now in the final stages of commissioning the instrument on the
JCMT, and I anticipate formally accepting ownership from the UKATC by
the end of this month. Accordingly, the instrument will be available
for science starting on 1st October.

The JCMT Board have determined that the JCMT Legacy Survey (JLS) is
the highest priority for the scientific use of SCUBA-2 and for the
exploitation of its unprecedented capabilities. Consequently, the
usage of SCUBA-2 during the first four months will focus exclusively
on this programme. The coordinators of the JLS projects are already
well aware of this and arrangements for the Science Verification phase
(the precursor to JLS observing) are coming together nicely.

With our initial focus on getting the JLS programme up and running, PI
access to SCUBA-2 will commence in semester 12A. We have recently
issued two announcements to this list, alerting potential PIs to the
timetable. As a reminder, the Call for 12A Proposals will be issued
on 30th September and the proposal deadline will be just two weeks
later, on 14th October. I am grateful to the national TAGs and the
ITAC for agreeing to an accelerated timetable for the time allocation
process on this occasion.

This Call will contain explicit instructions for calculating the
observing time required to reach a given depth over a given map area,
and as such the Call will represent our first public statement of the
sensitivity of the instrument.
I am of course well aware that the community has been awaiting the
release of SCUBA-2 for several years. It has been a long and winding
road to reach this point, and I thank you for your patience. I have
every expectation that it will prove to be a success!

Best regards,

Gary Davis,

Director JCMT.

SCUBA-2 to be included in call for proposals for semester 12A

An announcement via email to the JCMT community two weeks ago, indicated the approach of a hugely important milestone in the SCUBA-2 project. This announcement informed that the JCMT call for proposals for the next semester (12A, to start in February 2012) has been delayed to the end of September. With SCUBA-2 commissioning continuing apace, this delay will allow us to obtain reliable estimates of the instrument sensitivity and performance and to accommodate its inclusion in a call for proposals – for the first time, SCUBA-2 will be offered to the community in a standard call for proposals.

We are looking forward to reading all the exciting science cases for SCUBA-2.