NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5154

Status Report From: Space Telescope Science Institute
Posted: Monday, August 9, 2010


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am August 5 - 5am August 6, 2010 (DOY 217/09:00z-218/09:00z)


Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 8 8
FGS REAcq 6 6
OBAD with Maneuver 6 6



ACS/WFC3 11670

The Host Environments of Type Ia Supernovae in the SDSS Survey

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Supernova Survey has discovered nearly 500 type Ia supernovae and created a large, unique, and uniform sample of these cosmological tools. As part of a comprehensive study of the supernova hosts, we propose to obtain Hubble ACS images of a large fraction of these galaxies. Integrated colors and spectra will be measured from the ground, but we require high-resolution HST imaging to provide accurate morphologies and color information at the site of the explosion. This information is essential in determining the systematic effects of population age on type Ia supernova luminosities and improving their reliability in measuring dark energy. Recent studies suggest two populations of type Ia supernovae: a class that explodes promptly after star-formation and one that is delayed by billions of years. Measuring the star-formation rate at the site of the supernova from colors in the HST images may be the best way to differentiate between these classes.

STIS/CCD 11845

CCD Dark Monitor Part 2

Monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.

STIS/CCD 11847

CCD Bias Monitor-Part 2

Monitor the bias in the 1x1, 1x2, 2x1, and 2x2 bin settings at gain=1, and 1x1 at gain = 4, to build up high-S/N superbiases and track the evolution of hot columns.

WFC3/ACS/IR 11563

Galaxies at z~7-10 in the Reionization Epoch: Luminosity Functions to <0.2L* from Deep IR Imaging of the HUDF and HUDF05 Fields

The first generations of galaxies were assembled around redshifts z~7-10+, just 500-800 Myr after recombination, in the heart of the reionization of the universe. We know very little about galaxies in this period. Despite great effort with HST and other telescopes, less than ~15 galaxies have been reliably detected so far at z>7, contrasting with the ~1000 galaxies detected to date at z~6, just 200-400 Myr later, near the end of the reionization epoch. WFC3 IR can dramatically change this situation, enabling derivation of the galaxy luminosity function and its shape at z~7-8 to well below L*, measurement of the UV luminosity density at z~7-8 and z~8-9, and estimates of the contribution of galaxies to reionization at these epochs, as well as characterization of their properties (sizes, structure, colors). A quantitative leap in our understanding of early galaxies, and the timescales of their buildup, requires a total sample of ~100 galaxies at z~7-8 to ~29 AB mag. We can achieve this with 192 WFC3 IR orbits on three disjoint fields (minimizing cosmic variance): the HUDF and the two nearby deep fields of the HUDF05. Our program uses three WFC3 IR filters, and leverages over 600 orbits of existing ACS data, to identify, with low contamination, a large sample of over 100 objects at z~7-8, a very useful sample of ~23 at z~8-9, and limits at z~10. By careful placement of the WFC3 IR and parallel ACS pointings, we also enhance the optical ACS imaging on the HUDF and a HUDF05 field. We stress (1) the need to go deep, which is paramount to define L*, the shape, and the slope alpha of the luminosity function (LF) at these high redshifts; and (2) the far superior performance of our strategy, compared with the use of strong lensing clusters, in detecting significant samples of faint z~7-8 galaxies to derive their luminosity function and UV ionizing flux. Our recent z~7.4 NICMOS results show that wide-area IR surveys, even of GOODS-like depth, simply do not reach faint enough at z~7-9 to meet the LF and UV flux objectives. In the spirit of the HDF and the HUDF, we will waive any proprietary period, and will also deliver the reduced data to STScI. The proposed data will provide a Legacy resource of great value for a wide range of archival science investigations of galaxies at redshifts z~2-9. The data are likely to remain the deepest IR/optical images until JWST is launched, and will provide sources for spectroscopic follow up by JWST, ALMA and EVLA.

WFC3/ACS/IR 11677

Is 47 Tuc Young? Measuring its White Dwarf Cooling Age and Completing a Hubble Legacy

With this proposal we will firmly establish the age of 47 Tuc from its cooling white dwarfs. 47 Tuc is the nearest and least reddened of the metal-rich disk globular clusters. It is also the template used for studying the giant branches of nearby resolved galaxies. In addition, the age sensitive magnitude spread between the main sequence turnoff and horizontal branch is identical for 47 Tuc, two bulge globular clusters and the bulge field population. A precise relative age constraint for 47 Tuc, compared to the halo clusters M4 and NGC 6397, both of which we recently dated via white dwarf cooling, would therefore constrain when the bulge formed relative to the old halo globular clusters. Of particular interest is that with the higher quality ACS data on NGC 6397, we are now capable with the technique of white dwarf cooling of determining ages to an accuracy of +/-0.4 Gyrs at the 95% confidence level. Ages derived from the cluster turnoff are not currently capable of reaching this precision. The important role that 47 Tuc plays in galaxy formation studies, and as the metal-rich template for the globular clusters, makes the case for a white dwarf cooling age for this metal-rich cluster compelling.

Several recent analyses have suggested that 47 Tuc is more than 2 Gyrs younger than the Galactic halo. Others have suggested an age similar to that of the most metal poor globular clusters. The current situation is clearly uncertain and obviously a new approach to age dating this important cluster is required.

With the observations of 47 Tuc, this project will complete a legacy for HST. It will be the third globular cluster observed for white dwarf cooling; the three covering almost the full metallicity range of the cluster system. Unless JWST has its proposed bluer filters (700 and 900 nm) this science will not be possible perhaps for decades until a large optical telescope is again in space. Ages for globular clusters from the main sequence turnoff are less precise than those from white dwarf cooling making the science with the current proposal truly urgent.

WFC3/ACS/IR 11731

Studying Cepheid Systematics in M81: H-Band Observations

The local value of the Hubble Constant remains one of the most important constraints in cosmology, but improving on the 10% accuracy of the HST Key Project is challenging. No improvements will be convincing until the metallicity dependence is well constrained and blending effects are fully understood. M81 and its dwarf companion Holmberg IX are superb laboratories for studying Cepheid systematics because they contain large numbers of bright Cepheids with a good spread in metallicity lying at a common, relatively close distance. We have identified 180 12< P < 70 day Cepheids in these two galaxies using the Large Binocular Telescope (compared to 30 in total by the KP), and will expand the sample further in 2008-2009. We will use 10 orbits with WFC3/IR to obtain H-band images of 100 Cepheids in M81 to add to the ACS/BVI calibrations we will obtain from archival data and 1 orbit with WFC3/UVIS to add B-band data for Holmberg IX. Four band BVIH photometry will allow us to flux calibrate, estimate extinction, measure metallicity effects and then check the results in detail. We can also examine blending effects on WFC3/IR data in a relatively nearby galaxy before it is applied to more distant galaxies. Our M81 sample is three times larger than the next best sample, that of NGC4258, and suffers less from blending because M81 is at half the distance, so it is an excellent laboratory for studying Cepheid systematics even if it lacks as precise a geometric distance as NGC4258.


GHOSTS: Stellar Outskirts of Massive Spiral Galaxies

We propose to continue our highly successful GHOSTS HST survey of the resolved stellar populations of nearby, massive disk galaxies using SNAPs. These observations provide star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 2-3 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch of the outer disk and halo of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~32 V-mag per square arcsec.

This proposal will substantially improve our unique sampling of galaxy outskirts. Our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, inclination, and morphology. As a function of these galaxy properties, this survey provides: - the most extensive, systematic measurement of radial light profiles and axial ratios of the diffuse stellar halos and outer disks of spiral galaxies; - a comprehensive analysis of halo metallicity distributions as function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy; - an unprecedented study of the stellar metallicity and age distribution in the outer disk regions where the disk truncations occur; - the first comparative study of globular clusters and their field stellar populations.

We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process to test halo formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme.

WFC3/UVIS 11630

Monitoring Active Atmospheres on Uranus and Neptune

We propose Snapshot observations of Uranus and Neptune to monitor changes in their atmospheres on time scales of weeks and months, as we have been doing for the past seven years. Previous Hubble Space Telescope observations (including previous Snapshot programs 8634, 10170, 10534, and 11156), together with near-IR images obtained using adaptive optics on the Keck Telescope, reveal both planets to be dynamic worlds which change on time scales ranging from hours to (terrestrial) years. Uranus equinox occurred in December 2007, and the northern hemisphere is becoming fully visible for the first time since the early 1960s. HST observations during the past several years (Hammel et al. 2005, Icarus 175, 284 and references therein) have revealed strongly wavelength-dependent latitudinal structure, the presence of numerous visible-wavelength cloud features in the northern hemisphere, at least one very long- lived discrete cloud in the southern hemisphere, and in 2006 the first clearly defined dark spot seen on Uranus. Long term ground-based observations (Lockwood and Jerzekiewicz, 2006, Icarus 180, 442; Hammel and Lockwood 2007, Icarus 186, 291) reveal seasonal brightness changes that seem to demand the appearance of a bright northern polar cap within the next few years. Recent HST and Keck observations of Neptune (Sromovsky et al. 2003, Icarus 163, 256 and references therein) show a general increase in activity at south temperate latitudes until 2004, when Neptune returned to a rather Voyager-like appearance with discrete bright spots rather than active latitude bands. Further Snapshot observations of these two dynamic planets will elucidate the nature of long-term changes in their zonal atmospheric bands and clarify the processes of formation, evolution, and dissipation of discrete albedo features.

WFC3/UVIS 11905

WFC3 UVIS CCD Daily Monitor

The behavior of the WFC3 UVIS CCD will be monitored daily with a set of full-frame, four-amp bias and dark frames. A smaller set of 2Kx4K subarray biases are acquired at less frequent intervals throughout the cycle to support subarray science observations. The internals from this proposal, along with those from the anneal procedure (Proposal 11909), will be used to generate the necessary superbias and superdark reference files for the calibration pipeline (CDBS).

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