XMM-Newton Twentieth Announcement of Opportunity (AO-20)


The Announcement of Opportunity is closed now

Effective 18 August 2020, XMM-Newton observing proposals were solicited in response to the Twentieth Announcement of Opportunity, AO-20.

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

The deadline for XMM-Newton AO-20 proposal submission was Friday 9 October 2020, 12:00 UT.

Important changes for AO-20 relative to earlier Calls

(see the Policies and Procedures Document)

Re-arrangement of Scientific Categories A, B and C

Scientific categories have been re-defined. Former categories A, B and C have been merged into two:

A: Life-cycle of stars and planets
Diffuse (Galactic) Emission, Stars, White Dwarfs, Supernovae and long Gamma-Ray-Bursts, Supernova Remnants, Solar System, and Exoplanets

B: Isolated and binary compact objects and their evolution
Isolated Neutron Stars & Black Holes, White Dwarf Binaries, Cataclysmic Variables, Neutron Star Binaries, Black Hole Binaries, ULXs, short Gamma- Ray-Bursts and Gravitational Wave Events

Category C does not exist any longer.

Proposers are warned to check carefully that the proposal is submitted to the correct scientific category, in particular if they are re-cycling forms from previous AOs.

Multi-Year Heritage Programmes offered in this AO

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 three consecutive AOs. In total, up to 6.0 Ms of observing time may be allocated for this type 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.

Triggers of Joint Programmes

The requirements for triggers of Joint Programs have been reformulated. In addition, the validity of triggers of Joint Programmes is explicitly specified if different from the XMM-Newton validity.

Observations conducted over two or three AOs

Observations which are conducted over two or three AOs are considered Fixed-time observations.

Reminder: 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
Other Programmes: 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.

Proposal Submission Documentation

The following AO-20 documentation is available:

Letter by the Director of Science announcing AO-20 pdf
Policies and Procedures for the XMM-Newton AO-20 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-20 Timetable

Key milestones for AO-20 are

Announcement of Opportunity 18 August 2020
Due date for Proposals 9 October 2020 (12:00 UT)
Final OTAC approved programme mid December 2020
For approved proposals only:  
Start of Phase II proposal submission 11 January 2021
Closure of Phase II proposal submission 5 February 2021
Start of AO-20 observations May 2021


Approved AO-20 observations are planned to be performed during the period May 2021 to April 2022 (XMM-Newton revolutions 3918-4101).


Proposal Submission Procedure and Tools

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

XMM-Newton Remote Proposal Submission


The following tools are available to assist AO-20 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-20 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", 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.