INTEGRAL News archive for 2009


8th INTEGRAL Workshop "The Restless Gamma-ray Universe"

22 December 2009 The 8th INTEGRAL workshop "The Restless Gamma-ray Universe" will take place in Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland from 27 to 30 September 2010. The main goal of this workshop is to present and to discuss (via invited and contributed talks and posters) latest results obtained in the field of high energy astrophysics using the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory INTEGRAL, as well as results from related observations from other ground- and space-based high energy observatories. The first circular has been circulated early December.

Communications with ISOC

10 December 2009 The scientific community is reminded that concerning (e-mail) communication with the ISOC and/or the Project Scientist on all aspects of INTEGRAL science operations, including,e.g.

  • Scientific news worth to consider a TOO observation
  • Issues related to AO: proposals, TAC evaluation
  • Observation status, technical details of observations (modes, dither pattern)
  • Schedule


These messages will only be answered (by ISOC staff or by Project Scientist) if the communication interface used is the "helpdesk". ( )

E-mail communications on all issues concerning INTEGRAL Science operations which have been sent to any other user-id, like <name>, or <name> will and cannot be answered anymore.

In summary, please use only

Feedback to INTEGRAL User's Group (IUG)

02 December 2009 Dear users of INTEGRAL,

on 10/11 December, the INTEGRAL User's Group (IUG) will hold its next meeting at ESTEC.

Although after more than 7 years of operations for many of you working with INTEGRAL might be routine, nothing is perfect and the IUG would like to hear from YOU what you think could be improved such that INTEGRAL can serve you even better. We therefore invite you to communicate to us any comments, grievances, (or even praise ;-) ), that you might have, such as the AO process, INTEGRAL operations, data analysis, calibration, the helpdesk, or anything else related to your work with INTEGRAL such that they can be discussed at the IUG meeting.

More details here.

ISOC Webserver maintenance

24 November 2009 Due to necessary hardware replacement, the ISOC Webserver will not be available on Thursday 26 November from 14:00 to 17:00 GMT approximately. This affects, among others, the INTEGRAL Observation Tools and the Integral Scheduling services, including the ToO Alert page. To notify ISOC of a possible TOO during this brief period, please just send a mail to the INTEGRAL Help Desk , which will not be affected by this maintenance. We are sorry for any inconvenience this activity may cause.

AO7 Programme subscription target allocations

27 October 2009 ISOC has prepared the final list of sources approved by the AO7 TAC from the Data Rights proposals to the accepted Open Time proposals. The list, ordered by right ascension as well as by principal investigator, can be found on the Target Lists page for AO-7. There you will also find links to the approved target pointings for AO7 as well as descriptions of the associated Open Time proposals.


16 October 2009 AO7 officially began today on Oct. 16 during revolution 856 (but AO7 observation of NGC 2110 and then the Mkn 509 observations coordinated with XMM-Newton were already started in 854 and 855). In revolution 856, both monitors of JEM-X will be operating, with a very low telemetry for JEM-X1 (put in a safe/dormant mode) to prepare the final switch from JEM-X1 to JEM-X2: from revolution 856 onwards, JEM-X2 will be the main instrument. Besides, the 14th SPI annealing is planned to last for 6 revolutions and will be done during revolutions 857 until 862. During that time, the SPI instrument will not deliver science data (except during revolution 862). Finally, for more information on the AO7 target fields as well as the accepted sources within the fields, we refer to the approved AO7 target lists and short and long-term planning usual webpages.

Winners of the INTEGRAL competition

08 October 2009 An INTEGRAL competition was run as part of the 'International Year of Astronomy, 100 Hours of Astronomy' cornerstone project, in which people around the world were given access to leading astronomical observatories. To celebrate this International Year of Astronomy, ESA organised a competition in which students were presented with data from INTEGRAL and asked to study the Galactic bulge, one of the most active regions at the heart of our Galaxy. Entrants were required to perform research tasks using data of variable X-ray sources. The tasks included interpreting the data, searching for evidence of variability and then writing a report on their research. The competition entries were judged by an expert panel comprising ESA scientists. Students from India and South Africa have been selected as the winners of the 'Be an INTEGRAL astronomer' competition. For more details, click here.

AO-7 Data Right Proposals approved

30 September 2009 The ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. David Southwood) has approved the recommendation of the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) for proposals to obtain data rights to targets within AO-7 observations. The proposers have been informed about the TAC decision and about the detailed data rights obtained. An overview of successful proposals can be found here. An overview of the distributed sources and data right holders is being prepared.

High energy observations of the newly discovered burster millisecond pulsar IGR J17511-3057

18 September 2009 The transient source IGR J17511-3057 was discovered during INTEGRAL observations of the Galactic Bulge monitoring program (see ATel #2196). Subsequent observations of the Galactic Bulge and Center region allow to follow the transient's outburst in hard X-rays (see light curve below). A deeper insight into the source properties will be obtained during the TOO observations of the system in revolution 846 (16-19 Sep).

INTEGRAL is not the only satellite observing the outburst of IGR J17511-3057. The transient is being observed by many of the X-ray/gamma-ray observatories currently in operation. The overview below is based on available short-term scheduling, and may not be necessarily complete. For details of the INTEGRAL observations see the INTEGRAL Scheduling pages.

Upgrade of the Scientific Publications pages

15 September 2009 The web pages containing the INTEGRAL publications have been refurbished. There are now three lists:

  1. Refereed and non-refereed publications. This list is linked to the ADS database and includes therefore all options concerning sorting, query, paper retrieval etc. The list will be updated every month and contains publications from 2002 until the current date minus 2 months.
  2. Preprints. This list covers astro-ph papers from the last 6 months. Older papers will be removed. The list will be updated about once per week.
  3. There is also a list with publications before 2002.

GRB 090817 - a special Gamma-Ray Burst for INTEGRAL

18 August 2009 On 2009-08-17 at 2:51 a.m. (00:51 GMT) INTEGRAL caught another Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) in the field of view of IBIS/ISGRI, like it does about ten times per year. But this one was special on several counts. Not only by its unusually long duration of ~250 seconds, but also by being only a few degrees off-axis and thus visible also for the JEM-X monitor. The combined INTEGRAL spectrum covers the whole range of a gamma-ray burst, from 3 keV to several hundreds of keV. Unfortunately, the OMC was unlucky again, with the burst being just outside its detector area. More details on this event are given by the ISDC. Other observations of this GRB are reported on the GCN site.


Upgrade of the ISOC Science Data Archive

04 August 2009 A new version of the ISOC Science Data Archive (ISDA), has been released and is available at

The ISDA was first opened to external users in July 2005. Since then, the archive has been evolving continuously, with the aim of becoming more "science oriented" as opposed to "data oriented". Version 3 was released in July 2009. It allows the users to access INTEGRAL raw data, scientific observations and data products, via a new browsing and friendly interface for all the INTEGRAL instruments. It includes many new features, like the possibility to do a simple search on a source name and retrieve all the performed (public) data and products, as well as the full catalog and associated light-curves for the INTEGRAL sources of the Third IBIS/ISGRI Gamma-ray Survey catalog (Bird et al. 2007), that can further be opened through visualization tools.

AO-7 Data Right Proposals - preliminary results

10 July 2009 During the call for Data Right Proposals (deadline 3 July 2009) the ISOC system received 72 valid proposals, requesting 608 targets in total. As expected, the large majority of requests was for Compact Objects. Technical evaluation is ongoing, the Time Allocation Committee will decide on the proposals by early September.

Category Number of proposals Number of sources requested %
(# of proposals)
Compact galactic objects 48 388 66.7
Extragalactic objects 17 113 23.6
Nucleosynthesis 2 2 2.8
Miscellany 5 105 6.9
Total 72 608 100


ESA Research Fellowships in Space Science

10 July 2009 The European Space Agency awards several postdoctoral fellowships each year. The aim of these fellowships is to provide young scientists, holding a PhD or the equivalent degree, with the means of performing space science research in fields related to the ESA Science Programme. Fellowships can be undertaken at ESAC or ESTEC. For more information see the ESA Research Fellowship page and the ESAC Research Fellow Mentors page. The next deadline for application is 1 October 2009 for fellowships to begin in late 2010.

Research opportunities with ISOC science staff include the study of X-ray binaries, both black holes and neutron stars, e.g., their emission mechanisms, spectral properties, physics of accretion, activity timescales, X-ray bursts, etc, but also the Galactic Centre, especially Sgr A* and the Central Molecular Zone. For more information, please visit the personal research pages of Guillaume Bélanger, Marion Cadolle Bel, Erik Kuulkers, Peter Kretschmar and Celia Sanchez.

Mystery of Galactic annihilation-line emission solved?

8 July 2009 A team of astrophysicists may have solved a mystery that led some scientists to speculate that the distribution of certain gamma rays in our Milky Way galaxy was evidence of a form of undetectable "dark matter" believed to make up much of the mass of the universe. For more information see Integral disproves dark matter origin for mystery radiation or the UCSD Press Release.


The Extreme Sky: Sampling the Universe above 10 keV

29 May 2009 A workshop celebrating seven years of INTEGRAL will be held from 13-17 October 2009 at Castello Aragonese, Otranto (Lecce), Italy. A main focus of this workshop will be high-energy surveys from the keV to the TeV range, both from space missions and ground-based observatories, comparing and contrasting the results obtained in the various bands in the light of physical models. A dedicated section will also be devoted to discuss future mission ideas. More details can be found at


INTEGRAL AO-7 Call for Data Right Proposals is open!

25 May 2009 Today, the Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. David Southwood) has released the 7th Announcement of Opportunity for data right proposals with INTEGRAL.

This announcement solicits proposals for obtaining data rights to targets within AO-7 observations to be carried out from mid-October 2009 onwards. Proposers from all over the world are welcome to participate. All proposals will be subject to an independent peer review by the INTEGRAL Time Allocation Committee (TAC). The deadline for Proposals submission is Friday 03 July 2009, 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT).

More information can be found on the AO-7 (Data Rights) page.

INTEGRAL AO-7 General Programme approved

22 April 2009 The INTEGRAL AO-7 General Programme, as recommended by the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) and approved on the 15th of April by the ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. David Southwood), has been released and the observers have been informed.

Be an INTEGRAL astronomer - competition

08 April 2009 To mark the International Year of Astronomy ESA launched a special competition for students in secondary school and University undergraduates. They will use data taken by INTEGRAL to investigate objects in one of the most active regions of our Galaxy, the Galactic bulge. They have a chance to win a number of great prizes, including a trip to the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid, Spain. Deadline: 14 August 2009.

7th Announcement of Opportunity (AO-7) preliminary statistics

05 March 2009 The deadline (20 February 2009) for submission of INTEGRAL proposals for AO-7 open time observations is now a few days behind us. All proposals are in the ISOC database. Below are some preliminary statistics on the proposals that have been received.

Total number of proposals

The total number of proposals received was 76. The total observing time requested is about 107 Msec (for all types of observation, i.e. fixed time, normal time, and TOO). Here, 10% of the requested total TOO time has been taken into account. Given that up to about 29 Msec of observing time are available for the AO-7 observing programme (14.5 months duration starting on 16 October 2009), this corresponds to an oversubscription by a factor of about 3.7 (see details below). This is a high value, showing the continued high interest of the scientific community in the INTEGRAL mission.

Proposals per category

In the following table we give the breakdown of number of proposals as a function of the proposal category. Note that the numbers on requested observing times do include TOO proposals, but it has been assumed here, that a typical TOO proposal requests about 10% of its total observing time as entered into PGT from all the candidate sources included in a TOO proposal. The oversubscription, calculated as the ratio between total requested and total available observing time is 3.7.

Category Number of proposals Requested observing time (Ms) %
(# of proposals)
(requested time)
Compact galactic objects 32 29.4 42.1 27.4
Extragalactic objects 18 36.8 23.7 34.4
Nucleosynthesis 8 13.4 10.5 12.6
Miscellany 18 27.4 23.7 25.6
Total 76 107 100 100


The Time Allocation Committee, whose purpose is to peer review all proposals and recommend a scientific observing programme to ESA, will meet from March 23 - 25 at ESAC. Following this meeting, ESA will announce the approved programme for AO-7 of observations.

A second Call within this AO-7 will be released on 25 May, inviting proposals on individual point sources or selected sky areas (for diffuse emission studies) to be associated as "data-right proposals" with the selected observations, excluding TOO observations. The deadline for submission of data rights proposal is 03 July

Christoph Winkler
INTEGRAL Project Scientist
05 March 2009

Integral SPI detector failure

20 February 2009 On 19 February, following exit from a perigee passage, there appears to have been a failure of another SPI Ge detector (#5). This follows the losses of Ge #2 in December 2003 and and Ge #17 in July 2004. The MOC and instrument teams are still investigating the anomaly, but the chance of any recovery is slight. The previous two failures both occurred some weeks after annealing suggesting a possible link, but this is unlikely to be the case here since the last annealing finished in Sept 2008. The failure means that from the original 19 SPI detectors arranged in a hexagonal pattern we have 16 remaining.

ISOC temporarily unavailable due to maintenance work

19 February 2009 Due to a scheduled power outage at ESAC starting on the evening of Friday, 20 February the ISOC website will be down and the Target of Opportunity alert service will exceptionally be interrupted for the whole of the weekend up to 22 February. We regret any inconvenience caused by this unavoidable maintenance activity. The AO-7 proposal submission (deadline 13:00 GMT) will not be affected by this.

High energy observatories turn towards 1E 1547.0-5408

02 February 2009 INTEGRAL is not the only observatory having turned to the outburst of the magnetar 1E 1547.0-5408. A whole flight of high-energy observatories has scheduled observations in order to better understand this rare kind of source. The overview below is based on available schedule information and not necessarily complete. For details of the INTEGRAL observations see our scheduling pages.

Overview of TOO observations

7th INTEGRAL Workshop: Proceedings now coming online

01 February 2009 The proceedings of the 7th INTEGRAL Workshop are now starting to become available at the Proceedings of Science web site. The presentations for which a paper is available are marked with a little "pdf" symbol in red. There are now about forty papers available which have passed through the referee process. In total, ninety contributions have been received. Please bookmark the PoS web site in order to return for further updates.

Artist's impression of an Anomalous X-Ray Pulsar

Magnetar observed during outburst thanks to rapid response of INTEGRAL

27 January 2009 The quick turn-around time of the INTEGRAL operation teams has enabled rare high-energy observations of a magnetar. The observations, which were performed as a Target of Opportunity, followed indications late last week that this magnetar, the Anomalous X-ray Pulsar, 1E 1547.0-5408, had entered outburst mode.

Full story

Public TOO on 1E1547.0-5408

23 January 2009 INTEGRAL will observe as a public TOO the Anomalous X-ray Pulsar 1E1547.0-5408 which has recently shown intense bursting activity. Observations will begin in revolution 767 on Saturday 24 Jan 2009 at 15:30:59 and last until the end of the visibility window on Sunday 25 Jan 22:14:36.

All data will be made publicly available from the ISDC. For instructions see the Public TOO page.

AO-7 is now open !!!

12 January 2009 Today, the Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. David Southwood) has released the 7th Announcement of Opportunity for observing proposals with INTEGRAL.

This announcement solicits proposals for observations to be carried out from mid-October 2009 onwards. Proposers from all over the world are welcome to participate. All proposals will be subject to an independent peer review by the INTEGRAL Time Allocation Committee (TAC). The deadline for Proposals submission is Friday 20 February 2009, 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT).

Observing proposals selected for AO-7 will subsequently be open for so-called "data right proposals" via a second Call for Proposals. These associated proposals allow the possibility to obtain data rights on point-like, extended sources or emission features contained in the field of view of accepted observing proposals. The second call is scheduled to be released in May 2009.

More information can be found on the AO-7 page.

INTEGRAL Near Real Time Data Distribution to Observers

09 January 2009 Starting from 9 January 2009, INTEGRAL near real time data will be made available by the ISDC to observers with a delay of a few hours from acquisition by the satellite. Near real time data can be affected by a number of defects and approximate auxiliary information. The final consolidated data are still provided within 6 weeks from the end of an observation.