Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3685

By SpaceRef Editor
September 1, 2004
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3685

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science




ACS/HRC 10255

A Never Before Explored Phase Space: Resolving Close White Dwarf / Red
Dwarf Binaries

We propose an ACS Snapshot imaging survey to resolve a well-defined
sample of highly probable white dwarf plus red dwarf close binaries.
These candidates were selected from a search for white dwarfs with
infrared excess from the 2MASS database. They represent unresolved
systems {separations less than approximately 2" in the 2MASS images}
and are distributed over the whole sky. Our HST+ACS observations will
be sensitive to a separation range {1-20 AU} never before probed by
any means. The proposed study will be the first empirical test of
binary star parameters in the post-AGB phase, and cannot be
accomplished from the ground. By resolving as few as 20 of our ~100
targets with HST, we will be able to characterize the distribution of
orbital semi-major axes and secondary star masses.


The Star Formation History and Metallicity Evolution of M33: A
Comprehensive Study of Disk Evolution

We will obtain deep, panchromatic imaging photometry of stellar
populations in four fields ranging from 0.5 to 4 scale lengths across
the disk of the Local Group spiral M33. The observations are designed
to detect the oldest main-sequence turnoffs in three outer disk
fields, and to reach the crowding limit in the innermost field. We
will combine the photometry data with information we already have
in-hand on abundances from stars and H II regions in M33 to derive the
star formation history and metallicity evolution of the M33 disk. The
information from our four fields will allow us to obtain {1} the ages
of the oldest disk stars and the radial variation of their ages; {2}
the radial variation of the star formation history and its nature
{e.g., constant, declining, or bursting}; and {3} the metallicity
distribution in each field and the time evolution of the metallicity
gradient. Our team, an experienced mix of photometrists,
spectroscopists, and galaxy evolution theorists, will use the results
from this program to construct a comprehensive chemo-dynamical model
for the M33 disk. This detailed study of M33 will be a key in
developing an understanding of the formation and evolution of disks
that can be applied to studies of disks at both low and high redshift,
and will also yield a wealth of information on stellar populations,
chemical evolution, and star clusters that will be of great value to
future investigators.


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.

ACS/WFC 10135

Unveiling the Progenitors and Physics of Cosmic Explosions

GRBs and XRFs are clearly highly asymmetric explosions and require a
long-lived power source {central engine}. In contrast, nearby
core-collapse events are essentially spherical explosions. However,
the failure of spherical neutrino driven collapses has led to the idea
that asymmetric energy release is essential for the explosion. The
recent finding of a Type Ic SN in GRB 030329, the association of the
low energy event GRB 980425 with SN 1998bw, the theoretical
development discussed above and the rise of collapsar models make it
timely to consider whether all these explosions contain engines. Given
the uncertainties in theoretical modeling it is clear that
observations are needed to guide models. A priori there is little
reason to expect connection between the ultra-relativistic jet that
powers the GRB and the explosive nucleosynthesis of the ~0.5 solar
masses of Nickel-56 that powers the accompanying supernova. We propose
a comprehensive program of ACS photometric searches {and measurements}
for SNe associated with GRBs and XRFs. In concert, we will undertake
ground-based spectroscopy to determine velocity widths, and measure
engine parameters from pan-chromatic afterglow observations. Our goal
is to produce a comprehensive database of engine and SN physical
parameters against which theoretical modeling will be guided.


The Formation History of Andromeda

We propose deep observations of Andromeda’s outer disk and giant tidal
stream, to reconstruct their star formation histories. As the nearest
giant galaxy, Andromeda offers the best testing ground for
understanding galaxy formation and evolution. Given the dramatic
increase in sensitivity offered by the ACS, we can now resolve stars
on the old main sequence in the other giant spiral of the Local Group,
and employ the same direct age diagnostics that have been used for
decades in the study of Galactic globular clusters. In Cycle 11, we
successfully observed a field in the Andromeda halo and constructed a
deep color-magnitude diagram reaching well below the oldest main
sequence turnoff. In Cycle 13, we propose to extend these observations
to the outer disk and tidal stream of Andromeda, to constrain their
star formation histories and compare them to that of the halo. The
combined observations from these two programs will offer a dramatic
advance in our understanding of the overall evolution of spiral

NIC1 10179

A Coordinated NICMOS and XMM Experiment to Observe the Variability of
Sgr A*

The massive black hole Sgr A* at the Galactic center has recently
shown not only quiescent emission at near-IR wavelengths, but also
flare activity with quasi-periodicity of 17 minutes. Our research
group has been granted two blocks of observing time with XMM-Newton to
monitor the spectral and temporal properties of Sgr A*. Simultaneously
with these X-ray observations, we will also monitor Sgr A* at radio,
submillimeter, near-IR, and gamma-ray wavelengths. We propose to use
NICMOS in parallel with the XMM observations to provide evidence of a
well-defined minimum periodicity in the spectrum of flare
periodicities. This, combined with periodicity in the near-IR line
emission, would strengthen the claim that the emitting gas resides at
the innermost stable circular orbit around the GC black hole, thus
measuring the spin parameter of a massive black hole. Current
groundbased near-IR data suggest a spin parameter of ~0.5. In
addition, the correlation pattern of emission over a wide spectrum
would elucidate a key issue of how to explain the low luminosity of
Sgr A*.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8793

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 4

A new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of
NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA
contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50
minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in
parallel in all three NICMOS Cameras. The POST-SAA darks will be
non-standard reference files available to users with a USEAFTER
date/time mark. The keyword ‘USEAFTER=date/time’ will also be added to
the header of each POST-SAA DARK frame. The keyword must be populated
with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8
times per day so each POST-SAA DARK will need to have the appropriate
time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw
and processed images will be archived as POST-SAA DARKSs. Generally we
expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within
50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such maps to remove the CR
persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its
own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the
NICMOS detectors.

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


Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary
reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be
investigated.) None



                         SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES
FGS Gsacq              08                       08
FGS Reacq              09                       09
FHST Update            13                       13


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