INTEGRAL News archive for 2015


INTEGRAL TOO observations of V404 Cyg (GS 2023+338)

23 December 2015 INTEGRAL will perform new, out-of-TAC, ToO observations on the black-hole X-ray binary transient V404 Cyg. The source showed unexpectedly renewed activity today (see the various ATels and GCN Circulars). This is the same source which showed its fireworks in June. The observations will be done under the public flag. The observations are planned for 26 December to 31 December.

Temporary interruption of PICsIT HISTOGRAMS

18 December 2015 Due to a malfunction, the integration of histograms in INTEGRAL's IBIS
PICsIT layer has been interrupted. Recovery will require a lengthy procedure, estimated at 2 days, which will interrupt all IBIS data taking. After evaluation of the technical risks and scientific impact it has been decided to delay the re-activitation of PICsIT histograms to mid January 2016. Besides operational reasons for the wait, this also ensures only observing programmes aimed at diffuse emission will be affected.

INTEGRAL TOO observations of Mrk 421 flaring in the VHE band

17 December 2015 The blazar Mrk 421 has been found to be flaring at VHE energies by the FACT telescope. INTEGRAL TOO observations in revolution 1623 (2015-12-18 10:59:31 to 2015-12-20 10:45:10) are being undertaken in coordination with Swift.

How INTEGRAL was 'lost' and became a space rock

15 December 2015 When INTEGRAL changed its orbit last January/February not everywhere was its new orbit info updated. At the end of November, Jonathan McDowell (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) tweeted that asteroid-observing astronomers had been tracking an unidentified object, WJ2B5AC, with a 3831 min period. It had been found by the Catalina Sky Survey, while looking for asteroids. It was checked against known satellites using TLEs, but got no match. And thus it became, temporarily, a candidate space rock. See here for the full story.

INTEGRAL OSA version 10.2 released

10 December 2015 The ISDC has released INTEGRAL Offline Scientific Analysis Software (OSA) version 10.2. The main improvements of version 10.2 over version 10.1 are updated instrument calibrations. The new software is available for download from the ISDC.

Snow-cleaning for the INTEGRAL Mission

13 November 2015 With a winter storm coming in and temperature not solid under 0 degrees, a layer of snow builds-up at the ESTRACK KIR-1 antenna at Salmijäi, Kiruna. The M&O team is using the new acquired "Cherry Picker" to manually clean the reflector surface to ensure INTEGRAL will not miss a bit of its valuable scientific data.

Happy birthday INTEGRAL!

17 October 2015 Thirteen years ago, on 17 October 2002 at 6:41 CEST, the INTEGRAL observatory was launched from Baikonur. Today, it still remains in excellent health and continues to observe the gamma-ray and X-ray sky.

INTEGRAL TOO observations of the BEXRB TRANSIENT V 0332+53 RETURNING TO quiescence

5 October 2015 The Be X-ray binary transient V 0332+53, in outburst since mid-June, has recently entered the sub-critical regime. INTEGRAL TOO observations of this source in revolution 1596 (2015-10-07 14:30:05 to 2015-10-09 17:28:22) will attempt to measure the system cyclotron line energy in the lowest observable state.


27 July 2015 The accreting ms pulsar IGR J00291+5934 has been found to be active in the optical, by Swift and by MAXI. Concurrent ToO observations have been requested and approved for INTEGRAL revolution 1569 (2015-07-27 17:44:06 to 2015-07-29 20:56:46) and within XMM-Newton revolution 2863 (2015-07-28 11:48:19 to 2015-07-29 11:51:02).

INTEGRAL TOO observations of the BHC GS 1354-645

23 July 2015 The BHC GS 1354-645 has been in outburst since the end of June 2015 and seems to have reached its peak intensity at hard X-rays. An INTEGRAL ToO observation has been approved at the end of revolution 1572 as part of a multi-wavelength campaign, including ALMA, ATCA and possibly other observatories.

INTEGRAL TOO observations of a bright BeXRB transient: V 0332+53

9 July 2015 The Be X-ray binary transient V 0332+53 entered into outburst again in mid June after several years of quiescence and has by now reached almost 600 mCrab in the hard X-ray band. An INTEGRAL ToO observation has been accepted in the first part of revolution 1565 in order to study the source near the peak of the outburst. The source evolution can be followed, e.g., via the link from the BeXRB Monitor page.

Update 24 July 2015 As the source is still rising in flux, another ToO observation of V 0332+53 has been accepted for revolution 1569.

Update 27 July 2015 Due to the accepted TOO of IGR J00291+5934 and still rising flux, the observations of V 0332+53 have been moved to revolution 1570.

INTEGRAL AO-13 General Programme approved

9 July 2015 The INTEGRAL AO-13 General Programme, as recommended by the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) and approved by ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. Alvaro Giméz), has been released and the observers have been informed.

Astronomers use cosmic gravity to create a 'black-hole-scope'

6 July 2015 INTEGRAL, Fermi and Swift have used the magnifying power of a cosmic lens to explore the inner regions of a supermassive black hole in PKS 1820-311. The findings by A. Neronov et al. have been published online in Nature Physics today.

ESA Space Science News Release

INTEGRAL TOO observations of another black-hole binary transient: GS 1354-645

2 July 2015 The black-hole X-ray binary transient GS 1354-645 entered an outburst early June. An INTEGRAL ToO observation was triggered to do simultaneous observations with Swift, SALT and ATCA, in the 2nd part of Revolution 1560, on 5 July 2015. The data will become immediately public.

Continued public INTEGRAL Target of Opportunity observations of V404 Cyg (GS2023+338)

23 June 2015 The extreme brightness of the transient in (hard) X-rays (GCNs 17929, 17932, 17935, 17938, 17943, 17944, 17945, 17946, 17948, 17949; ATels #7646, #7647, #7662, #7665, #7693, #7694) makes this a unique event, and INTEGRAL is the only observatory currently capable of doing high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy. Therefore, INTEGRAL will continue to observe V404 Cyg as long as the source remains bright. INTEGRAL already performed a public observation from June 17-20 (Revolution 1554; see ATels #7662, #7693; see also the News item below), and is now performing a pre-approved ToO programme from June 20-25 (Revolutions 1555-1556; PI: Rodriguez). The PI has kindly agreed to make the consolidated data publicly available, about a month after the observations have been performed. INTEGRAL observations after June 25 will be made immediately publicly available again, to maximise the scientific returns. The exact observing strategy will depend on the evolution of the transient. Observations of V404 Cyg without interruptions are now planned until revolution 1563 ending on July 13.

ESA Space Science News Release / News in El Paí/a>

INTEGRAL TOO observations of the black-hole binary X-ray transient V404 Cyg (GS 2023+338)

17 June 2015 Renewed hard X-ray flaring activity from V404 Cyg (GS 2023+338) triggered the Swift/BAT (GCN 17929), Fermi/GBM (GCNs 17932, 17935) and Konus-Wind (GCN 17938), which indicate the start of a new outburst from this source (ATels #7646, #7647). These observations have initiated a public ToO observation starting tonight, in Revolution 1554, from 17-19 June 2015.

Test of low-speed region for INTEGRAL reaction wheels

28 May 2015 On various  occasions in June and July, using dedicated engineering windows, the INTEGRAL MOC will test the satellite behaviour in the low speed region of the on-board reaction wheels, which so far has been avoided. Allowing for lower speeds, might lead to significant fuel savings, but the feasibility and safety of the approach needs to be tested carefully. It might also affect the pointing accuracy and stability. Tests are currently foresee for June 8, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 24, as well as July 7. Data from these tests will be carefully asessed before a regular use of this approach will be considered.

Workshop: The New High-Energy Sky after a Decade of Discoveries

20 May 2015 From 5 to 9 October 2015 a workshop will be held in Rome to present and discuss, via invited and contributed talks (and posters), the main results obtained during the last decade in the field of high-energy astrophysics using INTEGRAL, and place these results in the context of other observatory-like space-based missions, such as Herschel, Plank, Swift, Fermi, AGILE, NuSTAR, MAXI, etc., as well as ground-based observatories. For more details please see the conference website.

INTEGRAL TOO observations of the magnetar SGR 1935+2154

15 April 2015 The Konus-Wind observation of a bright, intermediate burst from SGR 1935+2154 (GCN 17699, 17703) triggered a ToO observation. Revolution 1531, from 17-19 April 2015, will be devoted to the source.

Proceedings 10th INTEGRAL Workshop available

20 March 2015 The Proceedings of the 10th INTEGRAL Workshop "A Synergistic View of the High-Energy Sky", in Annapolis, USA, 15-19 September 2014, has been published on-line in Proceedings of Science.

INTEGRAL AO-13 Call for Observing Proposals is open!

9 March 2015 Today, the Director of Science and Robotic Exploration (Prof. Alvaro Giméz Cañ) has released the 13th Announcement of Opportunity for observing proposals with INTEGRAL.

This announcement solicits proposals for observations to be carried out from January 2016 for a period of 12 months. 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 proposal submission is Friday 17 April 2015, 14:00 CEST.

We would like to draw your attention to the following points:

  • Following a recommendation by the IUG it is possible to submit Key Programme proposals with observations spanning two AO cycles of observation.
  • To ensure a safe disposal in 2029, a series of dedicated manoeuvres modifying the orbit of INTEGRAL were executed in January and February, this year. The new orbit has a nominal duration of about 64 hours, compared to the old one, which lasted around 72 hours. Consequently, the available observing time per revolution is now approximately 170 ks, compared to 210 ks before the orbit change was implemented.
  • Observations with non-standard, custom patterns, such as the GPS and Galactic scans, generally reduce scheduling efficiency, and increase workload for both the ISOC and the Mission Operations Centre. Because of the overall reduced manpower in INTEGRAL operations, the use of non-standard patterns is now strongly discouraged. Hence, starting in AO-13, custom patterns will be considered only for the highest, A-grade, proposals, and their scheduling will be done on a best effort basis.
  • ESA continues to provide the opportunity to propose for coordinated observations with XMM-Newton and/or NASA's Swift satellite. A total of 300 ks of XMM-Newton observing time and a total of 150 ks of Swift observing time is available for these coordinated observations.
  • Finally, we would like to remind you that there is no second call for proposals requesting data rights anymore (so-called data rights proposals). Therefore, we strongly encourage you to submit any data rights proposals as observing time proposals in the coming and future announcements of opportunity; amalgamation has been made more flexible.

More information can be found on the AO-13 page.

INTEGRAL TOO observations of SAX J1748.8-2021 in NGC 6440

20 February 2015 After the INTEGRAL detection of renewed activity at hard X-rays from a transient within the Globular Cluster NGC 6440 (ATel #7098), the source was identified with Swift/XRT to be most probably the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar SAX J1748.8-2021 (ATel #7106). In response to a ToO request raised from the community, the Project Scientist has approved a public ToO observation of 100 ks which will begin at the start of revolution 1511 on 23 Feb 2015 at 12:20:46.

INTEGRAL back in business

13 February 2015 The fourth, and last, manoeuvre on 12 February of the INTEGRAL de-orbiting campaign was completed successfully. INTEGRAL is now in its final revised orbit. Science observations will start again on 15 February (Revolution 1508).

Where is INTEGRAL?

12 February 2015 ESA operations has provided widgets which are fed with the latest orbital tracks for ESA missions, or missions with significant ESA participation. Follow the link to `Track ESA Missions' and click on the blue name icon "Integral" to find out where INTEGRAL is.

Successful manoeuvre on 24 January.

27 January 2015 The second manoeuvre on 24 January, the largest of the 4 disposal manoeuvres, of the INTEGRAL de-orbiting campaign was successful. All operations could be executed as planned with no deviations from the timeline. As ever the satellite performed flawlessly. INTEGRAL is now back in science mode. The next, smaller, manoeuvre is planned for 4th February; see the News item on 9 January 2015. Follow ESA's Rocket Science blog for a detailed account.

AO-12 observations and preparations for AO-13 started

16 January 2015 ISOC wishes you a healthy and fruitful scientific 2015. The AO-12 cycle of observations started on January 1st and will last 12 months. The INTEGRAL target lists and sky maps are available. The AO-12 Long-Term Plan is still in preparation, pending the new orbit (see ISOC News 9 January 2015). We refer to the ISOC webpage at for further information.

ISOC is preparing the next call for proposals requesting INTEGRAL observing time. The AO-13 release will be on 9 March 2015, with a deadline on 17 April 2015. The AO-13 cycle of observations will begin on 1 January 2016 and has a duration of 12 months.

Release of AO-13: call for observing time proposals:   9 March 2015
Deadline for submission of observing time proposals:   17 April 2015 (14:00 CEST)
Meeting of the Time Allocation Committee:   26-28 May 2015
Start of AO-13 cycle of observations:   1 January 2016

INTEGRAL orbit change in January and February 2015 to foster a safe disposal by 2029

9 January 2015 ESA needed to work on a possible future safe disposal of INTEGRAL after its end of life. The requirement to study such an option was put on the project, as well as all other missions in operations, after the failure of Envisat. The disposal studies found that a permanent disposal by 2029 was feasible, with a very low casualty risk, by a major orbit control manoeuvre. The earlier this manoeuvre would be done (at suitable periods), the more efficient in fuel usage it would be - in practice early 2015 is the earliest conceivable time. After review and endorsement by ESA's Independent Safety Office the disposal plan has been approved by the Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

This means that the project will undertake manoeuvres in January and February 2015 in order change the orbit of INTEGRAL such that re-entry in the atmosphere and permanent disposal will be achieved in February 2029. These manoeuvres, will use roughly half of the remaining fuel at this stage (any later option would be more costly in fuel), still leaving propellant for 6-8 more years of operation after the manoeuvre. Note that this coincides - within the large uncertainties on both - with the time frame when operations are expected to become limited by the power of the solar panels.

A side effect of the orbit change is that INTEGRAL will no longer have revolutions of 3 sidereal days. Instead, one aims at implementing a scheme of 3 revolutions in 8 days in order to keep a repeating pattern for operations. The final orbit chosen is the best compromise found between fuel efficiency and operational use, allowing to continue science operations with minimal impact. The loss of science time due to a higher fraction of perigee passages is predicted to be less than 5%, and the seasonal visibilities do not change significantly either.

The foreseen sequence of events are as follows:

  • Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015: 1st Delta-V, to adjust ground station coverage (optimizes fuel usage in the following).
  • Saturday, 24 Jan 2015: 2nd Delta-V, large, to achieve 4/11 orbit (4 revolutions in 11 days).
  • Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015: 3rd Delta-V, large, to achieve final 3/8 orbit (3 revolutions in 8 days).
  • Thurday, 12 Feb 2015 PM: Touch-up Delta-V, small (as required).

During this period, a suitable target has been chosen from the approved AO-12 programme which is easy to schedule and does not have critical time dependencies for the observations. No Target-of-Opportunity observation are foreseen.

New INTEGRAL data distribution policy for AO-12

7 January 2015 In the Announcement of Opportunity 12 (AO-12) the data access rights policy has changed with respect to previous AOs. From AO-12 and onwards, data or science rights to the targets or science in the field of view (FOV) of the instruments proposed by the PIs and accepted by the TAC will be allocated to these PIs with the usual 1-year proprietary period.

If the PI is from a country other than the Russian Federation, the rest of the field will be made public. This holds for normal proposals as well as ToO proposals. Since INTEGRAL has on-board coded mask instruments, it means that all these data are available to the public. Following the one-year data rights proprietary period, all data will be made normally publicly available through the public archives, i.e., the data are freed from any data rights. If the PI is from the Russian Federation a similar policy is followed, except that the rest of the field will be open only to all Russian Federation scientists currently working at Russian Federation scientific institutes.

ISDC and ISOC have prepared a novel interface to download these data, ensuring that the guest observer is informed of the data policies and accepts them before downloading the data.

We invite you to make use of this interface and to report any suggestion to improve it to the INTEGRAL Helpdesk.