XMM-Newton Seventeenth Announcement of Opportunity (AO-17)

Announcement of Opportunity

Effective 22 August 2017, XMM-Newton observing proposals are solicited in response to the Seventeenth Announcement of Opportunity, AO-17.

A letter from ESA's Director of Science, inviting you to participate in the Seventeenth Call for Proposals, is available in electronic form.

The deadline for XMM-Newton AO-17 proposal submission is Friday 6 October 2017, 12:00 UT.

Important changes for AO-17 relative to earlier Calls

(see the Policies and Procedures Document)

Multi-Year Heritage Programmes

Scientifically visionary programmes which require more than 2 Ms of observing time may be proposed as "Multi-Year Heritage Programmes". These programmes may be accepted for observation over at most three consecutive AOs. In total, up to 6.0 Ms of observing time may be allocated for this new class of programmes.

"Multi-Year Heritage Programmes" will be reviewed by the Senior Review Panel, which will be a special and separate panel within the Time Allocation Committee.

Very Large Programmes are not offered as specific proposal category. There is no change for Large Programmes.

Fulfil Programmes

Programmes which focus on the archival content, and so will strengthen the legacy value of the mission, may be proposed as "Fulfil Programmes" with a shorter scientific justification length.

Requested observations cannot be time constrained, coordinated or Target of Opportunity.

Length of Scientific Justification

The maximum number of pages allowed for the scientific justification of the different types of proposals is:

Multi-Year Heritage Programmes: 8 pages
Large Programmes: 5 pages
Fulfil Programmes: 2 pages
Programmes not included in any
of the categories listed above:
4 pages

This limit includes all accompanying material, like the section on the feasibility of the proposed observations, figures, tables, references, previous work and publications.

Joint XMM-Newton / Chandra Large Programmes

The XMM-Newton joint programme with Chandra has expanded to facilitate large joint programmes. The XMM-Newton Time Allocation Committee can now award up to 1 Ms of Chandra time, with 400 ks and 600 ks reserved for regular and Large XMM-Newton programmes, respectively.

Similarly, the Chandra Project may award up to 1 Ms of XMM-Newton observing time, of which 600 ks are reserved for Chandra Large and Very Large programmes.

Scientific Category for Gravitational Waves Events and Tidal Disruption Events

Proposals requesting observations of Gravitational Wave Events have to be submitted to the Category
   "Supernovae, Gamma-Ray-Bursts, Gravitational Wave Events, Supernova Remnants, Diffuse (Galactic) Emission and Isolated Neutron Stars"

Proposals requesting observations of Tidal Disruption Events have to be submitted to the Category
   "Active Galactic Nuclei, Quasars, BL-Lac Objects and Tidal Disruption Events"

Reminder: Bright sources in EPIC-pn Timing Mode

Sources with an expected EPIC-pn count rate above 400 counts/s may be subject to distorted pn Timing mode spectra due to photon pile-up. As already announced for AO-16, such sources can be observed in EPIC-pn Timing mode only if the case is clearly explained in the scientific justification and, furthermore, one additional 10 ks exposure in Burst mode is included in the request.

The Remote Proposal Submission system will include automatically this 10 ks Burst mode exposure, plus overhead, for observations in EPIC-pn Timing mode if the estimated countrate of the source is higher than the above threshold.

Proposal Submission Documentation

The following AO-17 documentation is available:

Letter by the Director of Science announcing AO-17 pdf
Policies and Procedures for the XMM-Newton AO-17 on-line , pdf
XMM-Newton Users Handbook (UHB) on-line , pdf
XMM-Newton Scientific Justification LaTeX Template LaTeX File

On-line documentation contains updated links to references in the text.

The XMM-Newton SOC highly recommends the use of the Scientific Justification LaTeX Template (see further instructions at the end of this page).

AO-17 Timetable

Key milestones for AO-17 are

Announcement of Opportunity 22 August 2017
Due date for Proposals 6 October 2017 (12:00 UT)
Final OTAC approved programme late December 2017
For approved proposals only:  
Start of Phase II proposal submission 9 January 2018
Closure of Phase II proposal submission 2 February 2018
Start of AO-17 observations May 2018

Approved AO-17 observations are planned to be performed during the period May 2018 to April 2019 (XMM-Newton revolutions 3369-3551).


Proposal Submission Procedure and Tools

XMM-Newton Proposals are submitted using the XMM-Newton Remote Proposal Submission software:

XMM-Newton Remote Proposal Submission

The following tools are available to assist AO-17 proposers:

  • Visibility Checker Tool
    Check if a target is visible with XMM-Newton

  • Sky Visibility Map
    Check visibility constraints for any position on the sky during this AO

  • Observation Lokator
    Check if a target has been observed or is awaiting observation by XMM-Newton

  • Pending Anticipated ToOs
    Check if a target has already been accepted as anticipated ToO, and find the validity period of the corresponding proposal

  • EPIC Exposure Map Simulator
    For XMM-Newton Mosaic Mode

  • xmm_footprint.tpl (for ds9), xmm_footprint.xml (for Aladin)
    EPIC-pn footprint templates
    These files can be downloaded and be used as templates for ds9 and Aladin viewers. They should be loaded as Region-Template-Load (in ds9) and FOV (in Aladin).
    The Position Angles with which a given object can be observed with XMM-Newton can be obtained with the Visibility Checker Tool.

Other Useful Links for Proposers

The following links are available to assist AO-17 proposers:

The following external links may also be helpful:

Using the LaTeX Template File

Use of the provided LaTeX template to write the scientific justification is highly recommended.

Proposal justifications MUST be submitted as one file in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF file can be generated from the LaTeX template in one of two ways:

  1. Use a LaTeX installation which allows you to create PDF files directly from the .tex file (e.g. pdflatex). Some installations of pdflatex do not allow you to include postscript figures. In this case you might use method 2.

  2. Use ps2pdf (preferably version 1.4) to convert the postscript file to PDF:
    > latex file.tex
    > dvips -Ppdf -G0 -o file.ps file.dvi
    > ps2pdf14 file.ps file.pdf

Please take note of the following points regarding the use of the LaTeX template provided:

  • Proposers must make sure that generated PDF output from the template is complete both when displayed with a viewer (acroread) and when printed on paper. LaTeX installations vary greatly and therefore it might not be possible to get all proposals to come out correctly with a single text page layout. In some cases the user will have to adjust the \topmargin=-7mm command in the template to vertically centre the text.

  • The page limit of 4 pages (5 pages for "Large Programmes", 8 pages for "Multi-Year Heritage Programmes", 2 pages for "Fulfil Programmes") includes all materials, i.e. science justification and Sections 4 and 5 (previous work and publications).

  • Color images are allowed and proposals are distributed to OTAC in electronic form. However, the scientific content of images should still remain clear when displayed or printed in black and white.

  • The proposal justification can be submitted in single or in two-column format. Instructions on how to switch between these two layouts are given in the LaTeX template.

  • The font size (11pt) is mandatory.

All questions regarding XMM-Newton proposal submission should be directed to the XMM-Newton HelpDesk.