Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3675

By SpaceRef Editor
August 18, 2004
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science




ACS/HRC 10182

Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Type Ia Supernovae: The
Necessity of UV Observations

Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} are very important to many diverse areas
of astrophysics, from the chemical evolution of galaxies to
observational cosmology which led to the discovery of dark energy and
the accelerating Universe. However, the utility of SNe Ia as
cosmological probes depends on the degree of our understanding of SN
Ia physics, and various systematic effects such as cosmic chemical
evolution. At present, the progenitors of SNe Ia and the exact
explosion mechanisms are still poorly understood, as are evolutionary
effects on SN Ia peak luminosities. Since early-time UV spectra and
light curves of nearby SNe Ia can directly address these questions, we
propose an approach consisting of two observational components: {1}
Detailed studies of two very bright, young, nearby SNe Ia with HST UV
spectroscopy at 13 epochs within the first 1.5 months after discovery;
and {2} studies of correlations with luminosity for five somewhat more
distant Hubble-flow SNe Ia, for which relative luminosities can be
determined with precision, using 8 epochs of HST UV spectroscopy
and/or broad-band imaging. The HST data, along with extensive
ground-based optical to near-IR observations, will be analyzed with
state-of-the-art models to probe SN Ia explosion physics and constrain
the nature of the progenitors. The results will form the basis for the
next phase of precision cosmology measurements using SNe Ia, allowing
us to more fully capitalize on the substantial past {and future}
investments of time made with HST in observations of high-redshift SNe

ACS/HRC 9987

Coronagraphic search for disks around nearby stars

We will use the coronagraphic and imaging modes of the High Resolution
camera to study of the role of circumstellar disks in planetary system
formation over timescales of ~1-1000 Myr. Our targets comprise pre
Main-Sequence {MS} and MS stars, selected by infrared excess, and
targets selected from SIRTF surveys. Some targets, like Beta Pictoris
have debris disks that have been detected at optical or near-IR
wavelengths, while others have disks inferred from mid-IR or ISO
observations. We will obtain multicolor images of each target’s
circumstellar environment for the purpose of {1} detecting and
characterizing disk morphologies over all scales {including warps and
regions of enhanced or depleted density}, and {2} seeking evidence of
embedded planets. Direct and occulted images will be recorded for
studying the disks within 2 arcseconds of these targets; the
coronagraph will be used to image the outer regions of the disks.
Together with existing infrared observations, we will provide
constraints on the sizes, distribution, and composition of dust


CCD Daily Monitor

This program consists of basic tests to monitor, the read noise, the
development of hot pixels and test for any source of noise in ACS CCD
detectors. This programme will be executed once a day for the entire
lifetime of ACS.


The Shadow Echoes of the Unique R Coronae Borealis Star, UW Cen

Understanding the R Coronae Borealis {RCB} stars is a key test for any
theory aiming to explain hydrogen deficiency in post-AGB stars. The
RCB stars are rare hydrogen-deficient carbon-rich supergiants that
undergo very spectacular declines in brightness of up to 8 magnitudes
at irregular intervals as dust forms near the star along the line of
sight. UW Cen is unique among the cool RCB stars in having a visible
circumstellar shell. The morphology of the nebula appears to change as
different parts are illuminated by light from the central star
modulated by shifting, thick dust clouds near its surface. The central
star acts like a "lighthouse, " shining through gaps between the
near-star dust clouds, and lighting up different portions of the outer
nebula. We propose a scientific program in which a small number of
observations using ACS/HRC will exploit UW Cen’s unique circumstellar
shell to address two critical elements in understanding RCB stars:
determining an accurate distance to the star, and studying the
otherwise unobservable dust clouds forming near the star’s surface. We
will model the images using Monte Carlo techniques to calculate the
radiative transfer through arbitrary distributions of dust viewed from
any angle.

ACS/WFC 10174

Dark-matter halos and evolution of high-z early-type galaxies

Gravitational lensing and stellar dynamics provide two complementary
methods to determine the mass distribution and evolution of luminous
and dark-matter in early-type {E/S0} galaxies. The combined study of
stellar dynamics and gravitational lensing allows one to break
degeneracies inherent to each method separately, providing a clean
probe of the internal structure of massive galaxies. Since most lens
galaxies are at redshifts z=0.1-1.0, they also provide the required
look-back time to study their structural and stellar-population
evolution. We recently analyzed 5 E/S0 lens galaxies between z=0.5 and
1.0, combining exquisite Hubble Space Telescope imaging data with
kinematic data from ground-based Keck spectroscopy, placing the first
precise constraints on the dark-matter mass fraction and its inner
slope beyond the local Universe. To expand the sample to ~30 systems
— required to study potential trends and evolution in the E/S0 mass
profiles — we propose to target the 49 E/S0 lens-galaxy candidates
discovered by Bolton et al. {2004} from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
{SDSS}. With the average lens rate being 40% and some systems having a
lensing probability close to unity, we expect to discover ~20 strong
gravitational lenses from the sample. This will triple the current
sample of 9 E/S0 systems, with data in hand. With the sample of 30
systems, we will be able to determine the average slope of the
dark-matter and total mass profile of E/S0 galaxies to 10% and 4%
accuracy, respectively. If present, we can simultaneously detect 10%
evolution in the total mass slope with 95% confidence. This will
provide unprecedented constraints on E/S0 galaxies beyond the local
Universe and allow a stringent test of their formation scenarios and
the standard cosmological model.

ACS/WFC 10257

Astrometric and Photometric Study of NGC 6397 for Internal Motions,
Dark Binaries, and X-Ray Sources

We propose to observe the central regions of the globular cluster NGC
6397 with ACS/WFC once per month for the 10 months of its visibility
in Cycle 13. The project has three main goals: {1} Measure internal
motions for roughly 3000 stars within 150 arcseconds of the cluster
center, using archival WFPC2 as a first epoch. The motion of the
typical star will be measured to 10-20%. We will detect any central
black hole {BH} with a mass greater than 1000 solar masses, and will
also measure core-collapse signatures such as anisotropy. {2} Conduct
the first-ever search for heavy binaries by looking for the
astrometric "wobble" of the luminous secondary. We should find all
heavy binaries in the field with separations between 1 and 5 AU and
periods between 3 months and 5 years. {3} Search for optical
counterparts to X-ray sources found by Chandra.


Searching for the Bottom of the Initial Mass Function

The minimum mass of the Initial Mass Function {IMF} should be a direct
reflection of the physical processes that dominate in the formation of
stars and brown dwarfs. To date, the IMF has been measured down to 10
M_Jup in a few young clusters; there is no sign of a low-mass cutoff
in the data for these clusters. We propose to obtain deep images in
the SDSS i and z filters {i=26, z=25} with the ACS/WFC on HST for a
800"x1000" field in the Chamaeleon I star-forming region {2 Myr, 160
pc}. By combining these HST data {0.8, 0.9 um} with comparably deep
broad-band photometry from ground-based telescopes {1.2, 1.6, 2.2 um}
and SIRTF {3.6, 4.5, 5.8, 8.0 um}, we will measure the mass function
of brown dwarfs down to the mass of Jupiter and thus determine the
lowest mass at which objects can form in isolation in a typical star
forming cluster.


Accurately Mapping M31’s Microlensing Population

We propose to augment an existing microlensing survey of M31 with
source identifications provided by a modest amount of ACS {and WFPC2
parallel} observations to yield an accurate measurement of the masses
responsible for microlensing in M31, and presumably much of its dark
matter. The main benefit of these data is the determination of the
physical {or "Einstein"} time scale of each microlensing event, rather
than an effective {"FWHM"} time scale, allowing masses to be
determined more than twice as accurately as without HST data. The
Einstein time scale is the ratio of the lensing cross-sectional radius
and relative velocities. Velocities are known from kinematics, and the
cross-section is directly proportional to the {unknown} lensing mass.
We cannot easily measure these quantities without knowing the
amplification, hence the baseline magnitude, which requires the
resolution of HST to find the source star. This makes a crucial
difference because M31 lens mass determinations can be more accurate
than those towards the Magellanic Clouds through our Galaxy’s halo
{for the same number of microlensing events} due to the better
constrained geometry in the M31 microlensing situation. Furthermore,
our larger survey, just completed, should yield at least 100 M31
microlensing events, more than any Magellanic survey. A small amount
of ACS+WFPC2 imaging will deliver the potential of this large database
{about 350 nights}. For the whole survey {and a delta-function mass
distribution} the mass error should approach only about 15%, or about
6% error in slope for a power-law distribution. These results will
better allow us to pinpoint the lens halo fraction, and the shape of
the halo lens spatial distribution, and allow
generalization/comparison of the nature of halo dark matter in spiral
galaxies. In addition, we will be able to establish the baseline
magnitude for about 50, 000 variable stars, as well as measure an
unprecedentedly detailed color-magnitude diagram and luminosity
function over much of M31.

FGS 10202

Resolving OB Binaries in the Carina Nebula, Resuming the Survey

In March 2002 we carried out a small, high-angular resolution survey
of some of the brightest OB stars in the Carina Nebula with FGS1r in
an attempt to resolve binary systems which had thus far evaded
detection by other techniques. Of 23 stars observed, 5 new OB binaries
were discovered with component separations ranging from 0.015"
to0.325". This yield over the spatial domain of FGS1r’s angular
resolution, coupled with published statistics of the incidence of OB
stars in short-period spectroscopic, and long-period visual binaries
suggests that the fraction of binarity or multiplicity among OB stars
is near unity. Our unexpected resolution of the prototype O2 If* star
HD 93129A as a 55 milli-arcsecond double is a case in point that great
care must be exercised when one attempts to establish the IMF and
upper-mass cuttoff at the high-mass end of the HR diagram. We propose
to resume the survey to observe a larger, statistically meaningful
sample of OB stars to establish a firm assessment of multiplicity at
the high-mass end of the IMF in these clusters. We will also
investigate the single-star/binary-star status of several
astrophysically important, individual stars in order to enable a
better understanding of the evolution of high-mass stars.

WFPC2 10068

WFPC2 CYCLE 12 Standard Darks

This dark calibration program obtains dark frames every week in order
to provide data for the ongoing calibration of the CCD dark current
rate, and to monitor and characterize the evolution of hot pixels.
Over an extended period these data will also provide a monitor of
radiation damage to the CCDs.

WFPC2 10071

WFPC2 CYCLE 12 Supplemental Darks Part 3/3

This dark calibration program obtains 3 dark frames every day to
provide data for monitoring and characterizing the evolution of hot

WFPC2 10072


This calibration proposal is the Cycle 12 routine internal monitor for
WFPC2, to be run weekly to monitor the health of the cameras. A
variety of internal exposures are obtained in order to provide a
monitor of the integrity of the CCD camera electronics in both bays
{gain 7 and gain 15}, a test for quantum efficiency in the CCDs, and a
monitor for possible buildup of contaminants on the CCD windows.

WFPC2 10080

Wavelength Stability of Narrow Band and Linear Ramp Filters

Verify the mapping of wavelength as a function of CCD position on
LRFs; check for changes in central wavelengths of narrow band filters.


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

HSTAR 9515: During GS Reacquisition (2,1,1) @ 230/03:35:29Z, FGS 1
Attitude Error Vector (QDVEFGS1) flagged OOL red high at 143.432
arcsec. GS Reacquisition was successful. Under investigation.



                           SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES
FGS GSacq               12                        12
FGS REacq                06                        06
FHST Update             19                         19


SpaceRef staff editor.