NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5187

Status Report From: Space Telescope Science Institute
Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE - Continuing to Collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: 5am September 22 - 5am September 23, 2010 (DOY 265/09:00z-266/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 5 5
FGS REAcq 8 8
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7



ACS/WFC 11996

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 3)

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.


How Galaxies Acquire their Gas: A Map of Multiphase Accretion and Feedback in Gaseous Galaxy Halos

We propose to address two of the biggest open questions in galaxy formation - how galaxies acquire their gas and how they return it to the IGM - with a concentrated COS survey of diffuse multiphase gas in the halos of SDSS galaxies at z = 0.15 - 0.35. Our chief science goal is to establish a basic set of observational facts about the physical state, metallicity, and kinematics of halo gas, including the sky covering fraction of hot and cold material, the metallicity of infall and outflow, and correlations with galaxy stellar mass, type, and color - all as a function of impact parameter from 10 - 150 kpc. Theory suggests that the bimodality of galaxy colors, the shape of the luminosity function, and the mass-metallicity relation are all influenced at a fundamental level by accretion and feedback, yet these gas processes are poorly understood and cannot be predicted robustly from first principles. We lack even a basic observational assessment of the multiphase gaseous content of galaxy halos on 100 kpc scales, and we do not know how these processes vary with galaxy properties. This ignorance is presently one of the key impediments to understanding galaxy formation in general. We propose to use the high-resolution gratings G130M and G160M on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to obtain sensitive column density measurements of a comprehensive suite of multiphase ions in the spectra of 43 z < 1 QSOs lying behind 43 galaxies selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. In aggregate, these sightlines will constitute a statistically sound map of the physical state and metallicity of gaseous halos, and subsets of the data with cuts on galaxy mass, color, and SFR will seek out predicted variations of gas properties with galaxy properties. Our interpretation of these data will be aided by state-of-the-art hydrodynamic simulations of accretion and feedback, in turn providing information to refine and test such models. We will also use Keck, MMT, and Magellan (as needed) to obtain optical spectra of the QSOs to measure cold gas with Mg II, and optical spectra of the galaxies to measure SFRs and to look for outflows. In addition to our other science goals, these observations will help place the Milky Way's population of multiphase, accreting High Velocity Clouds (HVCs) into a global context by identifying analogous structures around other galaxies. Our program is designed to make optimal use of the unique capabilities of COS to address our science goals and also generate a rich dataset of other absorption-line systems.


The LMC as a QSO Absorption Line System

We propose to obtain high resolution, high signal-to-noise observations of QSOs behind the Large Magellanic Clouds. These QSOs are situated beyond the star forming disk of the galaxy, giving us the opportunity to study the distribution of metals and energy in regions lacking significant star formation. In particular, we will derive the metallicities and study the ionization characteristics of LMC gas at impact parameters 3-17 kpc. We will compare our results with high-z QSO absorption line systems.

FGS 12320

The Ages of Globular Clusters and the Population II Distance Scale

Globular clusters are the oldest objects in the universe whose age can be accurately determined. The dominant error in globular cluster age determinations is the uncertain Population II distance scale. We propose to use FGS 1r to obtain parallaxes with an accuracy of 0.2 milliarcsecond for 9 main sequence stars with [Fe/H] < -1.5. This will determine the absolute magnitude of these stars with accuracies of 0.04 to 0.06mag. This data will be used to determine the distance to 24 metal-poor globular clusters using main sequence fitting. These distances (with errors of 0.05 mag) will be used to determine the ages of globular clusters using the luminosity of the subgiant branch as an age indicator. This will yield absolute ages with an accuracy 5%, about a factor of two improvement over current estimates. Coupled with existing parallaxes for more metal-rich stars, we will be able to accurately determine the age for globular clusters over a wide range of metallicities in order to study the early formation history of the Milky Way and provide an independent estimate of the age of the universe.

The Hipparcos database contains only 1 star with [Fe/H] < -1.4 and an absolute magnitude error less than 0.18 mag which is suitable for use in main sequence fitting. Previous attempts at main sequence fitting to metal-poor globular clusters have had to rely on theoretical calibrations of the color of the main sequence. Our HST parallax program will remove this source of possible systematic error and yield distances to metal-poor globular clusters which are significantly more accurate than possible with the current parallax data. The HST parallax data will have errors which are 10 times smaller than the current parallax data. Using the HST parallaxes, we will obtain main sequence fitting distances to 11 globular clusters which contain over 500 RR Lyrae stars. This will allow us to calibrate the absolute magnitude of RR Lyrae stars, a commonly used Population II distance indicator.

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/UV 11605

Obtaining the Missing Links in the Test of Very Low Mass Evolutionary Models with HST

We are proposing for spatially resolved ACS+HRC observations of 11 very low mass binaries spanning late-M, L and T spectral types in order to obtain precise effective temperature measurements for each component. All of our targets are part of a program in which we are measuring dynamical masses of very low-mass binaries to an unprecedented precision of 10% (or better). However, without precise temperature measurements, the full scientific value of these mass measurements cannot be realized. Together, mass and temperature measurements will allow us to distinguish between brown dwarf evolutionary models that make different assumptions about the interior and atmospheric structure of these ultra-cool objects. While dynamical masses can be obtained from the ground in the near-IR, obtaining precise temperatures require access to optical data which, for these sub-arcsecond binaries, can only be obtained from space with Hubble.

WFC3/UV 12245

Orbital Evolution and Stability of the Inner Uranian Moons

Nine densely-packed inner moons of Uranus show signs of chaos and orbital instability over a variety of time scales. Many moons show measureable orbital changes within a decade or less. Long-term integrations predict that some moons could collide in less than one million years. One faint ring embedded in the system may, in fact, be the debris left behind from an earlier such collision. Meanwhile, the nearby moon Mab falls well outside the influence of the others but nevertheless shows rapid, as yet unexplained, changes in its orbit. It is embedded within a dust ring that also shows surprising variability. A highly optimized series of observations with WFC3 over the next three cycles will address some of the fundamental open questions about this dynamically active system: Do the orbits truly show evidence of chaos? If so, over what time scales? What can we say about the masses of the moons involved? What is the nature of the variations in Mab's orbit? Is Mab's motion predictable or random? Astrometry will enable us to derive the orbital elements of these moons with 10-km precision. This will be sufficient to study the year-by-year changes and, combined with other data from 2003-2007, the decadal evolution of the orbits. The pairing of precise astrometry with numerical integrations will enable us to derive new dynamical constraints on the masses of these moons. Mass is the fundamental unknown quantity currently limiting our ability to reproduce the interactions within this system. This program will also capitalize upon our best opportunity for nearly 40 years to study the unexplained variations in Uranus's faint outer rings.

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).

WFC3/UVIS 11908

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.

WFC3/UVIS 11914

UVIS Earth Flats

This program is an experimental path finder for Cycle 18 calibration. Visible-wavelength flat fields will be obtained by observing the dark side of the Earth during periods of full moon illumination. The observations will consist of full-frame streaked WFC3 UVIS imagery: per 22- min total exposure time in a single "dark-sky" orbit, we anticipate collecting 7000 e/pix in F606W or 4500 e/pix in F814W. To achieve Poisson S/N > 100 per pixel, we require at least 2 orbits of F606W and 3 orbits of F814W.

For UVIS narrowband filters, exposures of 1 sec typically do not saturate on the sunlit Earth, so we will take sunlit Earth flats for three of the more-commonly used narrowband filters in Cycle 17 plus the also-popular long-wavelength quad filters, for which we get four filters at once.

Why not use the Sunlit Earth for the wideband visible-light filters? It is too bright in the visible for WFC3 UVIS minimum exposure time of 0.5 sec. Similarly, for NICMOS the sunlit-Earth is too bright which saturates the detector too quickly and/or induces abnormal behaviors such as super-shading (Gilmore 1998, NIC 098-011). In the narrowband visible and broadband near- UV its not too bright (predictions in Cox et al. 1987 "Standard Astronomical Sources for HST: 6. Spatially Flat Fields." and observations in ACS Program 10050).

Other possibilities? Cox et al.'s Section II.D addresses many other possible sources for flat fields, rejecting them for a variety of reasons. A remaining possibility would be the totally eclipsed moon. Such eclipses provide approximately 2 hours (1 HST orbit) of opportunity per year, so they are too rare to be generically useful. An advantage of the moon over the Earth is that the moon subtends less than 0.25 square degree, whereas the Earth subtends a steradian or more, so scattered light and light potentially leaking around the shutter presents additional problems for the Earth. Also, we're unsure if HST can point 180 deg from the Sun.

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