LLAMA Project

The LLAMA Project (https://www.llamaobservatory.org/) is a joint venture of Argentina and Brazil aimed at the installation, operation and maintenance of a 12 m diameter radio telescope in northwestern Argentina to explore the skies of the south. It was established by the Agreement signed on June 18, 2014 between the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), Brazil, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation (MinCyT), Argentina and the University of São Paulo , Brazil.

The LLAMA telescope, located at about 4,800 meters above sea level, will operate in the frequency range of 35–950 GHz (millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths). Although initially the instrument will be used as a single plate telescope, it will perform in the future and together, for example, with ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array, https://www.almaobservatory.org/) or with EHT (Event Horizon Telescope, https://eventhorizontelescope.org/) Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). LLAMA will have quite a significant impact on frontier radio astronomy research with an extremely competitive international radio telescope, to be used by a large community.

LLAMA is located in Altos de Chorillos, an area that has a rainfall content of only 1 mm for much of the year, corresponding to a radiation transmission through the atmosphere of 0.4 to 700 GHz. With its surface accuracy (mean quadratic roughness less than 20 μm), this antenna could work up to a frequency of 1 THz (λ = 0.3 mm). As for today, the highest frequency (already built) receiver that will be installed in this project will be in band 9 (also ALMA Project´s band; corresponding to 700 GHz, or λ = 0.4 mm). In this band it can only be observed from the ground at altitudes of the order of 5,000 m and from exceptional sites in terms of low water content in the atmosphere.

The basic science of LLAMA is summarized below:

  • Astrophysics in multiple wavelengths: complement data of optical, infrared, and high-energy observatories.
  • Single Plate Science: observation of continuum, atomic and, especially, molecular spectral lines.
  • Southern Sky Surveys completing observations from the Northen skies.
  • VLBI Science: improve the quality in the distance and image reconstructions.
  • Observational Cosmology: (Neutrinos and light relics, dark matter interactions, Hubble constant, sum of neutrino masses, primary B-modes, Universe inflation, dark energy, Sunyaev-Z’eldovitch effect. An interferometric bolometer is being designed to be built and installed in the Cassegrein cabin of LLAMA
  • Other Topics of Interest: There are a variety of other research fields among which we could mention solar physics, structure of our galaxy, abundance of H2 molecules without dipole moment, study of the atmosphere of exoplanets.