AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 85 Science with the Submillimeter Array
Special Session, Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am, January 10, 2006, Virginia

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[85.01] Introduction to the Submillimeter Array

J. M. Moran (CfA), SMA Team

The Submillimeter Array, an imaging instrument with a resolution as fine as 0.1 arcseconds in the bands between 180 and 900 GHz (1.6 and 0.3 millimeters in wavelength) is now operational at a site near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The Array is a joint project of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan. It was dedicated in November 2003 and has been scheduled in semester blocks since then, with time available for the general community. A prime goal of the instrument is to study the rich forest of spectral lines from molecular transitions and the continuum dust emission from a wide variety of astrophysical objects. The results of initial observations were published in a special issue of the Astrophysical Journal (Lett.), volume 616, Number 1 (2004).

The SMA consists of eight 6-m diameter antennas which can be reconfigured among 24 pads to provide baselines of 8-508 meters. Receivers are currently available to cover the 230, 345, and 690 GHz bands. The digital correlator, in a standard mode, has 2 GHz bandwidth and 0.8 MHz (0.9 km/s at 345 GHz) resolution. The sensitivities in good weather for a one night track at 345 GHz are 2 mJy in the continuum mode, and 1K in the spectral line mode at 1 km/s resolution and 1 arcsecond resolution.

The expansion of the SMA to a 10-element array by including the JCMT and CSO instruments is well underway. Other projects include equipping the SMA with receivers in the 320-420 GHz band, which, with the existing receivers, will permit observations near 345 GHz to be made in full polarization mode and with improved sensitivity. Systems to correct for atmospheric phase fluctuations are under development. For more information, see the project website, http://sma-www.cfa.harvard.edu.

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