This program comprises basic tests for measuring the read noise and dark current of the ACS WFC and for tracking the growth of hot pixels. The recorded frames are used to create bias and dark reference images for science data reduction and calibration. This program will be executed four days per week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) for the duration of Cycle 17. To facilitate scheduling, this program is split into three proposals. This proposal covers 308 orbits (19.25 weeks) from 21 June 2010 to 1 November 2010.
The Nuclear Structure of OH Megamaser Galaxies
We propose a snapshot survey of a complete sample of 80 OH megamaser galaxies. Each galaxy will be imaged with the ACS/WFC through F814W and a linear ramp filter (FR656N or FR716N or FR782N or FR853N) allowing us to study both the spheroid and the gas morphology in Halpha + [N II]. We will use the 9% ramps FR647M (5370-7570 angstroms) centered at 7000 angstroms and FR914M (7570-10, 719 angstroms) 8000 angstroms for continuum subtraction for the high and low z objects respectively. OH megamaser galaxies (OHMG) form an important class of ultraluminous IR-galaxies (ULIRGs) whose maser lines emit QSO-like luminosities. ULIRGs in general are associated with recent mergers but it is often unclear whether their power output is dominated by starbursts or a hidden QSO because of the high absorbing columns which hide their nuclei even at X-ray wavelengths. In contrast, OHMG exhibit strong evidence for the presence of an energetically important and recently triggered active nucleus. In particular it is clear that much of the gas must have already collapsed to form a nuclear disk which may be the progenitor of a circum-nuclear torus, a key element of the unified scheme of AGN. A great advantage of studying OHMG systems over the general ULIRG population, is that the circum-nuclear disks are effectively "fixed" at an inner, edge on, orientation, eliminating varying inclination as a nuisance parameter. We will use the HST observations in conjunction with existing maser and spectroscopic data to construct a detailed picture of the circum-nuclear regions of a hitherto relatively neglected class of galaxy that may hold the key to understanding the relationship between galaxy mergers, nuclear star-formation, and the growth of massive black holes and the triggering of nuclear activity.
The Stellar Halos of Dwarf Galaxies
The metal-poor stellar halo is the oldest extended structure in the Galaxy. Such halos are thought to form through hierarchical merging, and contain stars pulled from accreted subhalos. The diffuse stellar halo therefore stores information about the prop reties of the accreted galaxies (i.e., their orbits, stellar masses, and metallicities). It is therefore unsurprising that stellar halos have become a popular probe of the early epoch of galaxy formation.
Almost all current work on stellar halos has focused on massive galaxies, however. We propose to extend the work on stellar halos to much lower mass scales, by studying the halos of faint dwarf galaxies. By taking halo studies into the dwarf galaxy regime, we can probe exceptionally small mass scales for the accreted halos. At these mass scales the effects of reionization and supernova feedback have the largest impact on the galaxy population. Stellar halos of dwarf galaxies are therefore a sensitive probe of the key processes needed to resolve the lack of substructure observed at low masses.
We are requesting two far-field ACS pointings for the three closest isolated nearby dwarf irregular galaxies whose inner halos have already been mapped with the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury. These outer fields will allow us to trace the halo out to roughly half the virial radius, further than any previous study. We will use the resulting distribution of halo stars (1) to unambiguously measure the structure of the stellar halo, with minimal contamination from the main galaxy; (2) to constrain the flattening of the stellar halo; (3) to measure the metallicity of halo stars as a function of radius; (4) to correlate any changes in halo profile with changes in metallicity. The resulting data will constrain models of halo accretion and the epoch of reionization.
Coronagraphic Imaging of Debris Disks Containing Gas
We recently found a new sample of edge-on debris disks using the Spitzer Space Telescope. These disks are particularly valuable because they have observable circumstellar gas as well as dust. They double the small number of debris disks that can be used to study gas-dust interactions in optically-thin disks, as well as the evolution of circumstellar gas during the terrestrial planet-forming phase. We propose HST-STIS coronagraphic imaging of the two closest disks from our sample, in order to image light scattered from the dust disks in a broad optical bandpass. These observations will provide a wealth of information about the disks, including their sizes, radial surface brightness profiles, and basic morphologies (ring-like or smooth disk). They may also reveal dust structures (e.g. clumps) that are often seen in optical images of debris disks and may be generated by the influence of unseen planets. This proposed program is a crucial step towards full characterization of the circumstellar material in two important debris disks.
CCD Dark Monitor Part 2
Monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.
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.
STIS Cycle 17 MAMA Dark Monitor
This proposal monitors the behavior of the dark current in each of the MAMA detectors.
The basic monitor takes two 1380s ACCUM darks each week with each detector. However, starting Oct 5, pairs are only included for weeks that the LRP has external MAMA observations planned. The weekly pairs of exposures for each detector are linked so that they are taken at opposite ends of the same SAA free interval. This pairing of exposures will make it easier to separate long and short term temporal variability from temperature dependent changes.
For both detectors, additional blocks of exposures are taken once every six months. These are groups of five 1314s FUV-MAMA Time-Tag darks or five 3x315s NUV ACCUM darks distributed over a single SAA-free interval. This will give more information on the brightness of the FUV MAMA dark current as a function of the amount of time that the HV has been on, and for the NUV MAMA will give a better measure of the short term temperature dependence.
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.
Infrared Survey of Star Formation Across Cosmic Time
We propose to use the unique power of WFC3 slitless spectroscopy to measure the evolution of cosmic star formation from the end of the reionization epoch at z>6 to the close of the galaxy- building era at z~0.3.Pure parallel observations with the grisms have proven to be efficient for identifying line emission from galaxies across a broad range of redshifts. The G102 grism on WFC3 was designed to extend this capability to search for Ly-alpha emission from the first galaxies. Using up to 250 orbits of pure parallel WFC3 spectroscopy, we will observe about 40 deep (4-5 orbit) fields with the combination of G102 and G141, and about 20 shallow (2-3 orbit) fields with G141 alone.
Our primary science goals at the highest redshifts are: (1) Detect Lya in ~100 galaxies with z>5.6 and measure the evolution of the Lya luminosity function, independent of of cosmic variance; 2) Determine the connection between emission line selected and continuum-break selected galaxies at these high redshifts, and 3) Search for the proposed signature of neutral hydrogen absorption at re-ionization. At intermediate redshifts we will (4) Detect more than 1000 galaxies in Halpha at 0.5 < z< 1.8 to measure the evolution of the extinction-corrected star formation density across the peak epoch of star formation. This is over an order-of-magnitude improvement in the current statistics, from the NICMOS Parallel grism survey. (5) Trace ``cosmic downsizing" from 0.5< z<2.2; and (6) Estimate the evolution in reddening and metallicty in star- forming galaxies and measure the evolution of the Seyfert population. For hundreds of spectra we will be able to measure one or even two line pair ratios -- in particular, the Balmer decrement and [OII]/[OIII] are sensitive to gas reddening and metallicity. As a bonus, the G102 grism offers the possibility of detecting Lya emission at z=7-8.8.
To identify single-line Lya emitters, we will exploit the wide 0.8--1.9um wavelength coverage of the combined G102+G141 spectra. All [OII] and [OIII] interlopers detected in G102 will be reliably separated from true LAEs by the detection of at least one strong line in the G141 spectrum, without the need for any ancillary data. We waive all proprietary rights to our data and will make high-level data products available through the ST/ECF.
IR Dark Current Monitor
Analyses of ground test data showed that dark current signals are more reliably removed from science data using darks taken with the same exposure sequences as the science data, than with a single dark current image scaled by desired exposure time. Therefore, dark current images must be collected using all sample sequences that will be used in science observations. These observations will be used to monitor changes in the dark current of the WFC3-IR channel on a day-to-day basis, and to build calibration dark current ramps for each of the sample sequences to be used by Gos in Cycle 17. For each sample sequence/array size combination, a median ramp will be created and delivered to the calibration database system (CDBS).
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).
UVIS Cycle 17 Contamination Monitor
The UV throughput of WFC3 during Cycle 17 is monitored via weekly standard star observations in a subset of key filters covering 200-600nm and F606W, F814W as controls on the red end. The data will provide a measure of throughput levels as a function of time and wavelength, allowing for detection of the presence of possible contaminants.
Cycle 17: UVIS Bowtie Monitor
Ground testing revealed an intermittent hysteresis type effect in the UVIS detector (both CCDs) at the level of ~1%, lasting hours to days. Initially found via an unexpected bowtie-shaped feature in flatfield ratios, subsequent lab tests on similar e2v devices have since shown that it is also present as simply an overall offset across the entire CCD, i.e., a QE offset without any discernable pattern. These lab tests have further revealed that overexposing the detector to count levels several times full well fills the traps and effectively neutralizes the bowtie. Each visit in this proposal acquires a set of three 3x3 binned internal flatfields: the first unsaturated image will be used to detect any bowtie, the second, highly exposed image will neutralize the bowtie if it is present, and the final image will allow for verification that the bowtie is gone.