next up previous
Next: Bibliography Up: IRAM Newsletter 47 (February 2001) Previous: News from the 30m


Call for Observing Proposals on the 30m Telescope


The next deadline for the submission of observing proposals for the IRAM 30m telescope is March 1st, 2001 18:00h (MET). The scheduling period extends from May 15, 2001 to Nov 15, 2001, covering roughly the summer period at Pico Veleta.

Two types of proposals will be considered:

proposals using the observatory's heterodyne receivers at wavelengths of 3, 2, 1.3 and 1.1 mm.

proposals using a 1.2mm bolometer array with 37 pixels.

Emphasis will be put on observations at the longer wavelengths (3 amd 2 mm). In total, about 3000 hours of observing time will be available, which should allow the scheduling of a few longer programmes (up to $\sim 150$ hours).

The main news, proposal formalities, details of the various receivers, and observing modes are described below.

What is new ?

Encouraged by considerable demand for bolometer observations, the demonstrated success of skynoise suppression algorithms in certain observing modes, and the more stable hard- and software situation available with MAMBO, we invite proposals using the MPIfR 37 channels bolometer array during the summer 2001 semester on an experimental basis.

In view of the less transparent and considerably less stable atmosphere during summer days, bolometer proposals should concentrate on sources stronger than 1 mJy visible during night time. Depending on the demand, we expect that up to 20% of the time available may be allocated to bolometer observations. During some additional time, the bolometer may be kept on standby for target-of-opportunity and other urgent projects. In order to improve the observing efficiency, IRAM staff may propose to combine shorter bolometer proposals and observe them in service mode.

Projects can now be performed remotely from any of our remote observing stations in Granada, Grenoble, Bonn and, with some restrictions, Paris (ENS, contact: David Teyssier, As experience shows, remote observing is an interesting alternative if the total observing time is less than about 40 hours.


Valid proposals consist of the official cover page, up to two pages of text describing the scientific aims, and up to two more pages of figures, tables, and references. The official cover page, in postscript or in LATEXformat, may be obtained by anonymous ftp from in directory dist/proposal, as well as a Latex style file proposal.sty; or through the IRAM 30m web page at URL In case of problems, contact the secretary, Cathy Berjaud (e-mail: Do not use characters smaller than 11pt, which could make your proposal illegible when copied or faxed.

Proposals may be submitted in one of the three following ways:

We strongly encourage submission through the web-based facility. More than three quarters of the proposals were sent in this way for the last deadline. Proposals sent by E-mail are not accepted.

All proposals must reach the Secretariat before March 1st, 2001 18:00h (MET). The Principal Investigator will receive by return mail an acknowledgement of reception and a proposal number. To avoid the allocation of several numbers per proposal, send only one copy of your proposal, either electronically, by ordinary mail, or by fax.

Proposals containing grey scale plots should be submitted electronically to avoid deterioration of image quality in the copying. Color plots will be printed/copied in grey scale. If the proposers want their color plots to be passed on to the program committee, the entire proposal must be sent in by ordinary mail in 12 copies.

On the title page, you must fill in the line `special requirements' if you request either polarimetric observations, service or remote observing, or specific dates for time dependent observations. If there are periods when you cannot observe for personal reasons, please specify them here; beware, however, that such additional restrictions could make your observations difficult or impossible to schedule.

We insist upon receiving, with proposals for heterodyne receivers, a complete list of frequencies corrected for source redshift (to 0.1 GHz). Also specify on the cover sheet which receivers you plan to use.

In order to avoid useless duplication of observations and to protect already accepted proposals, we keep up a computerized list of targets. We ask you to fill in carefully your source list. This list must contain all the sources (and only those sources) for which you request observing time. To allow electronic scanning of your source parameters, your list must be typed or printed following the format indicated on the proposal form (no hand writing, please). If your source list is long (e.g. more than 15 sources) you may print it on a separate page keeping the same format.

The scientific aims of the proposed programme should be explained in 2 pages of text maximum, plus up to two pages of figures, tables, and references. Proposals should be self-explanatory, clearly state these aims, and explain the need of the 30m telescope. The amount of time requested should be carefully estimated and justified. It should include all overheads (see below).

A scientific project should not be artificially cut into several small projects, but should rather be submitted as one bigger project, even if this means 100-150 hours.

If time has already been given to a project but turned out to be insufficient, explain the reasons, e.g. indicate the amount of time lost due to bad weather or equipment failure; if the fraction of time lost is close to 100%, don't rewrite the proposal, except for an introductory paragraph. For continuation of proposals having led to publications, please give references to the latter.

In all cases, indicate on the first page whether your proposal is (or is not) the resubmission of a previously rejected proposal or the continuation of a previously accepted 30m telescope proposal. We strongly recommend to state very briefly in the introduction why the proposal is being resubmitted (e.g. improved scientific justification) or is proposed to be continued (e.g. last observations wiped out by bad weather).


A handbook (``The 30m Manual'') collecting most of the information necessary to plan 30m telescope observations is available [10]. The report entitled ``Calibration of spectral line data at the IRAM 30m telescope'' explains in detail the applied calibration procedure. Both documents can be retrieved through the IRAM web pages in Granada ( and Grenoble ( A catalog of well calibrated spectra for a range of sources and transitions (Mauersberger et al. [13]) is very useful for monitoring spectral line calibration.

The On-the-Fly observing mode (OTF) is available for heterodyne observations. Considerable progress was made in making the control of the observations and the data reduction user friendly. Documentation is available on the Granada web page. Due to the complexity of the OTF observing mode we advise proposers without a demonstrated experience of this technique on the 30m telescope to contact, or involve in their proposal, an astronomer with such experience. Ute Lisenfeld of the Granada staff ( serves as the principal contact in OTF matters.

Frequency switching is available. It yields acceptable baselines only for sources with very narrow lines (2 km/s or less) within certain limitations (maximum frequency throw of 45 km/s, backends, phase times etc.; for details see [8]).

Finally, to help us keeping up a computerized source list, we ask you to fill in your `list of objects' as explained before.

Observing time estimates

This matter needs special attention as a serious time underestimate may be considered as a sure sign of sloppy proposal preparation. Observing time estimates must take into account:

A technical report explaining how to estimate the telescope time needed to reach a given sensitivity level in various modes of observation was published in the January 1995 issue1 of the IRAM Newsletter [9]. It has been included in the 30m telescope Manual [10].

In order to facilitate the rather complex calculation of observing time we strongly recommend the easy-to-use Time Estimator on our web pages. The tool gives sufficiently accurate estimates of the total observing time and handles the vast majority of both heterodyne and bolometer observing modes. Now in its version 2.2, it includes the new 4 MHz filterbanks. Extensive on-line help is provided. Questions can be addressed to P. Hily-Blant ( Proposers are asked to use this tool whenever applicable.

If very special observing modes are proposed which are not covered by the Time Estimator proposers must give sufficient technical details so that their time estimate can be reproduced. In particular, the proposal must give values for $T_{\rm sys}$, spectral resolution, antenna temperature of the signal, the signal/noise ratio which is aimed for, all overheads and dead times, and the resulting observing time).

Proposers should base their time request on normal summer conditions, corresponding to 7mm of precipitable water vapor. Conditions during summer afternoons may be degraded due to anomalous refraction. Observing efficiency is then reduced and temperature calibration is more uncertain than the typical 10 percent. If exceptionally good transmission or stability of the atmosphere is requested which may be reachable only in near winter conditions, the proposers must clearly say so in their time estimate paragraph. Such proposals will however be particularly scrutinized.

Service observing

To facilitate the execution of short ($\leq$8 h) programmes, we propose ``service observing'' for some easy to observe (e.g. short, single source) programmes with only one set of tunings. Observations are made by the local staff using precisely laid-out instructions by the principal investigator. For this type of observation, we request an acknowledgement of the IRAM staff member's help in the forthcoming publication. If you are interested by this mode of observing, specify it as a ``special requirement'' in the proposal form. IRAM will decide which proposals can actually go to that mode.

Remote observing

This observing mode where the remote observer actually controls the telescope very much like on Pico Veleta, is available from the downtown Granada office, from MPIfR in Bonn, from IRAM Grenoble and, with restrictions, from the Radioastronomy Lab at the ENS in Paris. This observing mode is limited to projects without particular technical demands and to experienced 30m users. The prospective remote observer should note ``remote observing from Grenoble, Granada, Bonn or Paris'' as a special requirement in the proposal cover sheet.

Remote observers affiliated with the MPIfR or other institutes near Bonn should contact F. Bertoldi ( or D. Muders ( at MPIfR for a short introduction into the remote observing station. Remote observers from Paris should contact David Teyssier ( The Bonn and Paris stations are not maintained by IRAM. It is therefore the responsibility of the observer to ensure with their local contact that the stations are tested sufficiently in advance, and they have access to the respective offices.

We recommend that remote observers leave their private and/or mobile phone numbers to the operator at Pico Veleta and prepare the catalogs in advance so that in the unlikely case of a failure, the observations can be performed by the astronomer on duty or the operator.

Remote observers in or near Grenoble contact C. Thum or H. Wiesemeyer at IRAM. Observers visiting the 30m might opt to do some of their observing from Granada if it eases their travel constraints. In this case, a Granada astronomer should be contacted as soon as possible.

Technical Information about the 30m Telescope

This section gives all the technical details of observations with the 30m telescope that the average user will have to know. See also the concise summary of telescope characteristics published on the IRAM web pages.

Heterodyne Receivers

Eight new generation receivers are available at the telescope for the upcoming observing season. They are designated according to the dewar in which they are housed (A, B, C, or D), followed by the center frequency (in GHz) of their tuning range. Their main characteristics are summarised in Tab. 1. All receivers are linearly polarized with the E-vectors, before rotation in the Martin-Puplett interferometers, being either horizontal or vertical in the Nasmyth cabin. Up to four of the receivers can be combined for simultaneous observations in the four ways depicted in Tab. 1. Also listed are typical system temperatures which apply to normal summer weather (7mm of water) at the center of the tuning range and 45 elevation. All new generation receivers are tuned entirely from the control room. Experience shows that it normally takes about 15 min to tune four such receivers.

Table: Heterodyne receivers available for the summer 2001 observing season. Performance figures are based on recent measurements at the telescope. $T^{\ast }_{sys}$ is the SSB system temperature in the T$^\ast _A$ scale at the nominal center of the tuning range, assuming average winter conditions and 45 elevation. gi is the rejection factor of the image side band. $\nu _{IF}$ and $\Delta \nu _{IF}$ are the IF center frequency and width.
receiver polar- combinations tuning range TRx(SSB) gi $\nu _{IF}$ $\Delta \nu _{IF}$ $T^{\ast }_{sys}$ remark
  ization 1 2 3 4 GHz K dB GHz GHz K  
A100 V 1   3   80 - 115.5 45 - 65 >20 1.5 0.5 120  
B100 H 1     4 81 - 115.5 60 - 85 >20 1.5 0.5 120  
C150 V   2   4 129 - 183 70 - 115 15 - 25 4.0 1.0 200 3
D150 H   2 3   129 - 183 65 - 150 8 - 17 4.0 1.0 200  
A230 V 1   3   197 - 266 85 - 185 12 - 17 4.0 1.0 450 1
B230 H 1     4 197 - 266 95 - 160 12 - 17 4.0 1.0 450 1
C270 V   2   4 241 - 281 125 - 290 10 - 20 4.0 1.0 1000 2,3
D270 H   2 3   241 - 281 130 - 300 9 - 13 4.0 1.0 1000 2
1: noise increasing with frequency
2: performance at $\nu<275$ GHz; noisier above 275 GHz.
3: noise temperatures are preliminary

General point about receiver operations

We recommend that observers send a list of their frequencies to Granada in time, in particular if frequencies near the edges of the tuning range are requested. For late arrivals (less than 2 weeks in advance), or a large number of frequencies, there is no guarantee for a prior test of the requested tunings.


The prototypal IF polarimeter is available on a restricted basis. The instrument is designed for narrowband (40 MHz) line and continuum polarimetry. It needs two orthogonally polarized receivers as input and it generates 4 signals from which spectra of all four Stokes parameters can be derived. The tests made so far have demonstrated the viability of the concept for point sources. In particular, drift of the relative phase between the two receivers was found to be sufficiently slow so that it can be calibrated. A preliminary description of the instrument is available on the web at URL $\tilde{\:}$thum.html.

Polarimetry proposals are invited with the restriction that the target sources are not larger than the main beam.

The RF polarimeter based on switching a quarter wave plate is still available. Interested observers please contact IRAM (preferentially B. Lazareff or C. Thum) to discuss what might actually be possible this summer.

MPIfR Bolometer array

The 37-pixel array consists of 3 concentric hexagonal rings of horns centered on the central horn. Spacing between horns is $\simeq 20''$. Each channel has a a HPBW of 11''. The arrays are mostly used in two basic observing modes, ON/OFF and mapping.2 We expect that the ON/OFF typically reaches an rms noise of $\sim 2$ mJy in 10 min of total observing time (about 200 sec of on source integration time) under ``normal summer conditions'' (pwv 7mm and a stable atmosphere, i.e. no clouds, no turbulence). This corresponds to a nominal sensitivity of $\simeq 40\rm mJy/\sqrt{Hz}$. It requires that skynoise can be subtracted, which is efficiently possible only for point sources. For mapping more extended sources, where skynoise cannot be easily removed, the noise is twice as high, and, hence, the integration time must be quadrupled to reach the same signal-to-noise ratio. Please consult the Time Estimator on the Observatory's web page.

The minimum useful integration time per position should be 10 minutes plus an overhead of 10 minutes.

If noise levels (<1mJy) are requested that may be reachable only in exceptionally stable weather, the proposers must clearly say so in their time estimate paragraph. Such proposals will, however, be particularly scrutinized.

The bolometers are used with the wobbling (typically at a rate of 2 Hz in azimuth) secondary mirror. The orientation of the beams on the sky changes with hour angle due to parallactic and Nasmyth rotation, as the array is fixed in Nasmyth coordinates. Special software is made available at the telescope for data reduction (NIC [11] and MOPSI). Time estimators for planning ON/OFF or mapping observations are also available [11,17].

Efficiencies and error beam

Extensive work during the last years in measuring and setting the telescope surface has resulted in significantly improved aperture and beam efficiencies which have increased nearly a factor 2 at the highest frequencies accessible to the telescope (see report by U. Lisenfeld and A. Sievers elsewhere in this Newsletter). The current numbers are shown in Table 2.

Table: Forward and main beam efficiencies, $\eta_F$ and $\eta_{mb}$, and beam width $\theta_b$.
frequency [GHz] $\theta_b$ ['']$\,^1)$ $\eta_F$ $\eta_{mb}\,^2)$
86 29 0.95 0.78
110 22 0.95 0.75
145 17 0.93 0.69
170 14.5 0.93 0.65
210 12 0.91 0.57
235 10.5 0.91 0.51
260 9.5 0.88 0.46
279 9 0.88 0.42

1) fit to all data: $\theta_b$ [''] = 2460 / frequency [GHz]
2) based on a fit of recently measured data to the Ruze formula: $\eta_{\rm F}=1.2\epsilon \exp(-(4\pi R \sigma /\lambda)^2)$
with $\epsilon=0.69$ and $R\sigma=0.07$ 

At 1.3 mm (and a fortiori at shorter wavelengths) a large fraction of the power pattern is distributed in an error beam which can be approximated by two Gaussians of FWHP $\simeq 170''$and 800'' (see [16,1] for details). Astronomers should take into account this error beam when converting antenna temperatures into brightness temperatures.

The aperture efficiency depends somewhat on the elevation, particularly at shorter wavelengths. This gain/elevation effect is evaluated in [15].


The following four spectral line backends are available which can be individually connected to any receiver.

Pointing / Focusing

Pointing sessions are normally scheduled twice per week; at present, the fitted pointing parameters yield an absolute rms pointing accuracy of better than 3'' [14]. Receivers are closely aligned (within <2''). Checking the pointing, focus, and receiver alignment is the responsibility of the observers (use a planet for alignment checks). Systematic (up to 0.4 mm) differences between the foci of various receivers were noted in the past and may well persist, even with the new generation receivers. In such a case the foci should be carefully monitored and a compromise value be chosen. Not doing so may result in broadened and distorted beams ([1]).

Wobbling Secondary

next up previous
Next: Bibliography Up: IRAM Newsletter 47 (February 2001) Previous: News from the 30m