Special Session SS27  2 July 2024

Towards mapping the sub-millimeter Universe with AtLAST

Aims and scope

The sub-millimeter/millimeter window (λ from 0.35 to 10 mm) allows us to peer into the coldest - and often most highly obscured - regions of galaxies, study the deviations imprinted on the CMB spectrum by energetic processes through the Sunyaev - Zeldovich effect, probe the innermost regions of galaxies close to the event horizon of super massive black holes through VLBI, investigate the enigmatic Solar chromosphere, with the exciting prospect of the discovery of new classes of sources through the study of their transient and/or variability nature.

To date, our understanding of the submm Universe is far from being complete, being hampered by the lack of facilities able to simultaneously deliver deep surface brightness sensitivity and a sufficiently high spatial resolution to resolve the cosmic infrared background, motivating the need for a new observatory. The Atacama Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (AtLAST) project aims to transform the current landscape which consists, at one extreme, of very high spatial resolution and small field of view interferometers, and, at the other extreme, of large field of view 6-10 meter class single dish telescopes devoted to low spatial resolution survey (and low sensitivity) experiments.

AtLAST is a concept for a next-generation widefield and large aperture single-dish facility: it has a primary mirror diameter of 50-meter, an unprecedentedly large instantaneous field of view of 1 to 2 degrees (approximately 500 times the field of view of existing large single dish sub-mm facilities), and it is optimized to cover the same wavelength range as ALMA. The telescope will be situated at an altitude of above 5000m on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile, hence maximizing the synergy with ALMA and other observatories in the area. The observatory aims to minimize its own carbon footprint and that of the surrounding area by using renewable energy sources and cutting-edge energy storage solutions. The EU-funded AtLAST design study will reach completion in August 2024.

In this Special Session, we aim to bring together theorists and observers interested in a future facility such as AtLAST, and discuss its wide ranging and transformational sub-mm science goals with the wider European astronomical community.


The special session will be organized as follows:

  • Session 1 will be focused on the AtLAST project, with an overview of its goals and instrumental and scientific capabilities;
  • Session 2 will be dedicated to science cases related to the nearby Universe: Sun, Solar System, and Milky Way;
  • Session 3 will be dedicated to science cases related to the distant universe: local and high-z galaxies, galaxy groups, clusters and protoclusters, epoch of reionization, and cosmology.
Both Sessions 1 and 2 will include technology-dependent science cases (i.e. VLBI, time domain and polarimetry). The lunch session will be dedicated to open discussion of the future steps necessary to bring the project to fruition.

Invited speakers

  • Caroline Bot (the sub-mm view of the Magellanic Clouds and nearby galaxies)
  • Luca Di Mascolo (the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect in high-z protoclusters, and mock observations with the AtLAST simulator)
  • Kate Pattle (observing magnetic fields in galaxies using polarimetry)
  • Yvette Perrot (the relativistic Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect in massive galaxy clusters)
  • Livia Vallini (theoretical predictions of sub-mm and FIR line emission from galaxies)
  • Friedrich Wyrowski (The sub-millimeter view of our Milky Way)

Scientific organisers

  • Paola Andreani (ESO)
  • Henrik Beuther (MPIA)
  • Claudia Cicone (chair, UiO)
  • Harley Katz (Chicago)
  • Pamela Klaassen (co-chair, UKRI)
  • Kotaro Kohno (Tokyo)
  • Tony Mroczkowski (co-chair, ESO)
  • Amelie Saintonge (UCL)


Claudia Cicone, Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, claudia.cicone @ astro.uio.no

Updated on Sat May 11 08:56:43 CEST 2024