The second partner group was approved by the MPA and CAS in 2005, and was officially launched in August 2008 with Researcher YANG Xiaohu (SHAO) and Prof. Volker Springel (MPA) as the responsible officers representing the two sides. The main areas of cooperation are numerical simulation of fluid and galaxy formation. It passed mid-term evaluation in 2009 and was terminated in August 2011. During its operation, the partner group supported four Doctorate students each spending one year at the MPA on cooperative research, successfully held three Sino-German joint meetings in astrophysics (one of which was convened in German), and published close to 40 high-level SCI papers.
The third partner group still running today started in January 2011 with Researcher LI Cheng (SHAO) and Prof. Guinevere Kauffmann (MPA) as the responsible officers representing the two sides. Both partners are jointly dedicated to the study of cold gas accretion as well as star formation and evolution. The Chinese and German sides of this partner group have undertaken a series of research tasks, adopting the cooperative mode used by the previous groups. The two sides published more than 20 SCI papers, and in addition, the leaders of both sides led the group to take part in the fourth phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV). As one of the constituent members to use SDSS-IV, the observatory will actively utilize the SDSS-IV database in conducting research activities. SHAO will further step up the efforts of the partner group with the aim of producing more and better results. The partner group passed its mid-term evaluation in October 2013, and was highly commended by the international appraisal committee. The chairman of MPA has indicated that the MPA would continue to support the partner group until the originally planned completion date in 2015.
2.Collaboration with NRAO
In 2008 SHAO and NRAO signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in rdio astronomy both for scienttific research and the techenical development. Based on the successful implementation in the first MoU, three successive MoUs were signed in 2011, 2013 and 2014, respectively. In this framework of MoUs, SHAO and NRAO cooperate across a broad front and result in fruitful collaborative achievement:
(1) Joint research projects
SHAO and NRAO jointly cooperate and collaborate closely in a number of areas to further their mutual common interests. SHAO is proposing a millimeter-wavelength space VLBI project, consisting of two space telescopes working at highest frequency of 43GHz, aiming to imaging the fine structure in astronomical jets, the emission zone surrounding the supermassive black hole. SHAO actively participates in NRAO proposed Northern Hemisphere Telescope array (NHT) project. The ambiguous aim is to build a most sensitive array working at 1-50 GHz or even higher, by connecting the existing radio telescopes in northern hemisphere and building more telescopes.
(2) SHAO supports VLBA operation
SHAO contributes towards operation of the VLBA. In exchange for these payments, Chinese astronomers have access to the VLBA time for 100 hr per year. This project is supported by the CAS astronomical pilot B project since 2014. The first cycle of VLBA observations led by Chinese PIs have been conducted and preliminary results obtained.
(3) Collaborative development in observing equipment
SHAO and NRAO jointly developed state-of-art C and Ku band receiving systems, and DIBAS backend for Tianma telescope. These have made great contribution to the commissioning of Tianma telescope.
(4) Academic exchange
Astronomical communities in China and the United States benefit from closer collaboration, via strong and regular scientific, technical, management and operational contacts and personnel exchanges, and joint projects. SHAO and NRAO have chaired the 2nd and 3rd China-US workshop on radio science and technology in 2013 and 2014, respectively. SHAO organized several space VLBI forums in which US astronomers joined and had given constructive comments and contribution.
The Asia-Pacific Space Geodynamics (APSG) is an unincorporated association of individuals who desire to exchange geodetic and cartographic information relating to worldwide petroleum development. The purposes of the APSG are to advance survey technology relative to the worldwide petroleum industry and to disseminate information to APSG members in respect of worldwide petroleum geodesy, surveying, cartography, and spatial data management.
Proposed by Madam Shuhua YE, APSG was initiated in 1996. Since 1996 SHAO served as its Central Bureau. It has organized international VLBI/SLR campaigns regularly, and also takes part in international GNSS network. International workshops are also organized almost every year to present the results focus on the study of this region. It has obtained supports from many related agencies like NASA, IAG, CAS, etc. The project will promote international academic exchange and scientific cooperation, and will contribute to the scientific research level of the developing countries in this area.
4.Joint International VLBI activities
(1) European VLBI Network (EVN)
The Sheshan 25m radio telescope became a member of the European VLBI Network (EVN) in 1993. Sheshan telescope contributes the longest baseline to the EVN, that is crucial for imaging compact celestial objects. During the past two decades, the Sheshan telescope keeps active in international VLBI observation and research domain. In mid of 2000’s, a high-speed fiber connection was open from Shanghai to Dwingeloo, where the EVN correlator is located, supporting a maximum 1 Gbps data transfer in real time mode. In 2012, Tianma Telescope was constructed also in Sheshan area and has successfully carried out a number of international VLBI experiments among the EVN. We decided that Tianma will start to join the EVN regular observation in 2015.
(2) JIVE board
Noting that the importance of the partnership between EVN and CAS in operation of radio telescope and data analysis center, China is invited to join the JIVE board member, and SHAO is representative of participating JIVE board meeting. And to work together to ensure a stable organizational and financial international framework. The partners will support each other in VLBI astrophysics, geodesy, space science projects conducted by an individual partner, and encourage bilateral collaboration that also includes staff and student exchange.
(3) The East Asia VLBI Network (EAVN)
Recognizing the importance for both scienctific goal and technical development of close and constructive cooperation in the field of radio astronomy, especially VLBI, in the East Asian Region, SHAO (China), NAOC (Japan), and KASI (Korea) have made a lot of efforts to establish cooperative relationship among the observatories and institutes among these countries. EAVN contains more than 20 radio telescopes, consisting of a world-class VLBI network. Communication and exchange become more and more frequent since the first EAVN forum in 2003 held in Shanghai. There is a EAVN workshop and VLBI winter school every year. These perform an important role in training young generation of VLBI community and strengthen multilateral interactions. Besides, a series of EAVN test experiments have been made in 2014 to check the compatibility of the telescopes in different countries. Scientific outcome is expected to be seen in near future.
(4) International VLBI Service for geodesy and astrometry(IVS)
SHAO has been involved in geodetic VLBI activities for more than 30 years. Sheshan 25m VLBI station and SHAO data analysis center are important components of the IVS (International VLBI Service for geodesy and astrometry) from the inception of the IVS in 1999. In 2012, SHAO was also accepted as one of IVS correlators. Sheshan station participated in the IVS-INT3 rapid sessions for monitoring the variation of Earth Rotation from 2012 in near real-time mode, and Tianma 65m telescope began to observe a few astrometric VLBI sessions with its powerful sensitivity from 2014. Looking into the future, SHAO has already a plan to put a VGOS (VLBI Global Observing System) antenna in the courtyard where Seshan25 located at, and the Shanghai Correlator will correlate a few IVS sessions in 2015 and more for the future VGOS operation. From 2007 onward, there are 2 VLBI experts in SHAO, Prof. Xiuzhong Zhang and Dr. Fengchun Shu, served as a member of the IVS Directing Board successively.
5.SHAO Joined the SDSS-IV
In May 2013, Deputy Director SHEN Zhiqiang (Researcher) of SHAO and General Director Prof. Michael Blanton of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (Fourth Phase) (SDSS-IV) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signifying that SHAO has officially joined the Forth Phase of Sloan Digital Ssky Survey (SDSS-IV) and hence has become one of its first institutional members.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is hitherto the largest optical imaging and spectroscopic survey of galaxies in the local universe. In the past one decade and a half, SDSS has already obtained optical images over a quarter of the sky and the optical spectral data of more than 100 million galaxies, quasars and stars. More than 6,000 scientific papers with over 260,000 citations have been published by September 2014, making it one of the most influential optical/infrared ground-based observing equipment supporting the biggest group of users and producing the largest set of results. Starting on 2014 July 1, SDSS entered its fourth phase with a plan to complete three major experiments in six years using the Sloan telescope. The plan is geared to the in-depth study of frontier science problems including the Milky Way structure, two-dimensional nature of nearby galaxies, and large-scale cosmological structure at high-z. Since SDSS-IV inherits mature equipment and successful experience of the earlier phases, it has the advantages of low investment, small risk and high return. The SDSS-IV phase is well timed, and will play the unique role of a link between the past and the future as it will fill the gap between SDSS and other forthcoming next-generation sky surveys such as MS-DESI, Subaru/PFS and Euclid.
As a full institutional member, SHAO has the privilege of using all the internal SDSS-IV data. SHAO will take on research tasks actively using the SDSS-IV data in the next six years or an even longer period of time. The scope of research at the SHAO Research Center for Galaxy & Cosmology covers all the science objectives of the three SDSS-IV experiments: APOGEE-II/S, MaNGA and eBOSS. The SDSS-IV team at SHAO currently include 14 staff members, 15 postdocs and more than 30 graduate students. These are divided into three sub-teams according to scientific topic. The first topic is the structure and chemical evolution of Milky Way to be based on data from both the APOGEE-II/S survey and the LAMOST Galactic Survey, involving Hou Jinliang, Chen Li, Shen Juntai, Martin Smith and their group members. Second, Li Cheng, Hao Lei, Shen Shiyin, Shao Zhengyi and their group members will make use of the SDSS-IV MaNGA data to study the internal structure, star formation history and nuclear activity of a large sample of nearby galaxies, extending their current studies based on the public data from previous SDSS surveys. Finally, Lin Weipeng, Gu Minfeng, Li Cheng and their group members will focus their research on the large-scale distribution of galaxies and QSOs using data from the SDSS-IV eBOSS survey. All these studies will be based on the SDSS-IV internal data, and will be compared extensively with large cosmological dark matter simulations and high-resolution N-body/hydro simulations of individual galaxies and clusters of galaxies, taking advantage of the solid research experience in numerical simulation at SHAO. It is expected that, by joining the SDSS-IV project, SHAO will significantly enhance both the overall research in the field of galaxy formation and cosmology and its scientific impact in the international community. It is also expected that a number of young astronombers will grow through joining the scientific research in the SDSS-IV collaboration. Hopefully some of them will be able to play important roles in next-generation large observational experiments.