Targets of Opportunity Overview


Revised July 2021, edits Jan and Feb 2024

This page provides an overview of the SOAR Target of Opportunity policy. A detailed description of the policy can be found in this document, which proposers should read before proposing. Please make sure you are familiar with current policies! Some things to keep in mind:

  • The total number of executed interrupts is limited to 12 per semester, with some exceptions.
  • The amount of time that can be used for an interrupt is limited to no more than 2.5 hours, including all night-time overheads.
  • Scheduled time-critical nights can be protected; such "protected nights" are infrequent but they do exist.
  • Differently from the NOIRLab ToO policy, ToO programs are responsible for supplying observers. Training can be provided as needed.

Questions regarding the policy can be sent to the director.

Given the high level of interest in following up gravitational wave events, in 2018-2020 SOAR set aside a separate allocation for observations of these events, starting in semester 2018B. For each of 2019A, 2019B and 2020A, up to 18 interrupts were authorized, to be allocated between partners as needed. This policy no longer applies, see the current policy linked above! It was expected that this would support observation of 2-3 events per semester (based on SOAR's experience from 2017, assuming similar brightness).

For GWE, we do retain the policy that when there are two (or more) competing groups of approved proposers, the adopted solution is to provide data to all groups while allowing any of them to trigger an observation.

New starting Semester 2024B! For observers who need moderately-high-cadence observation, AEON time-critical mode is now available. This is less-invasive that Target of Opportunity mode. In particular, it allows the PI to submit observations through the AEON queue portal, and does not require them to supply a trained observer.

ToO Policy Review

Time-domain astronomy is a rapidly evolving field, and SOAR's ToO policy is expected to evolve as well. We will assess our experience with the current policy annually. Comments from users (both ToO programs and classical programs) are encouraged.

Updated on February 27, 2024, 5:15 am