Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3727

By SpaceRef Editor
November 2, 2004
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science





Gravitational Microlensing in the NGC 3314A-B Galaxy Pair

Determining the composition of the dark matter that dominates the
masses of galaxies is an important unsolved problem, and the results
of the MACHO Collaboration suggest that some of Milky Way’s dark
matter may be in the form of very old white dwarfs. However, some have
argued that the excess of microlensing events seen by MACHO are due to
a larger than expected microlensing rate for lens stars in the LMC
itself or its tidal debris. We propose to address this question by
detecting microlensing events in the line-of-sight galaxy pair NGC
3314 A & B. The large line-of-sight distance between these galaxies
gives an optical depth that is 3-4 orders of magnitude larger than if
the source stars and lenses were in the same galaxy, and the fact that
the background galaxy is a spiral ensures that there will be a
sufficient number of bright, non-variable source stars. Our proposed
observations should have the sensitivity to detect microlensing by
both ordinary stars and dark matter in NGC 3314A {the foreground
galaxy}. If there are dark matter microlensing events to be found,
they can be clearly distinguished from stellar microlensing events
because they will occur outside the visible disk of NGC 3314A. If
baryonic dark matter is detected in NGC 3314A, we will be able to map
its radial density variation.

FGS 9972

Calibrating the Mass-Luminosity Relation at the End of the Main

We propose to use HST-FGS1R to calibrate the mass-luminosity relation
{MLR} for stars less massive than 0.2 Msun, with special emphasis on
objects near the stellar/brown dwarf border. Our goals are to
determine M_V values to 0.05 magnitude, masses to 5 than double the
number of objects with masses determined to be less than 0.20 Msun.
This program uses the combination of HST-FGS3/FGS1R at optical
wavelengths and ground-based infrared interferometry to examine
nearby, subarcsecond binary systems. The high precision measurements
with HST-FGS3/FGS1R {to 1 mas in the separations} for these faint
targets {V = 10–15} simply cannot be equaled by any ground based
technique. As a result of these measurements, we are deriving high
quality luminosities and masses for the components in the observed
systems, and characterizing their spectral energy distributions from
0.5 to 2.2 Mum. Several of the objects included have M < 0.1 Msun,
placing them at the very end of the stellar main sequence. Three of
the targets are brown dwarf candidates, including the current low mass
record holder, GJ 1245C, with a mass of 0.062 +/- 0.004 Msun. The
payoff of this proposal is high because all 10 of the systems selected
have already been resolved with HST- FGS3/FGS1R during Cycles 5–10
and contain most of the reddest objects for which masses can be

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.

FGS 10432

Precise Distances to Nearby Planetary Nebulae

We propose to carry out astrometry with the FGS to obtain accurate and
precise distances to four nearby planetary nebulae. In 1992, Cahn et
al. noted that “The distances to Galactic planetary nebulae remain a
serious, if not THE most serious, problem in the field, despite
decades of study.” Twelve years later, the same statement still
applies. Because the distances to planetary nebulae are so uncertain,
our understanding of their masses, luminosities, scale height, birth
rate, and evolutionary state is severely limited. To help remedy this
problem, HST astrometry can guarantee parallaxes with half the error
of any other available approach. These data, when combined with
parallax measurements from the USNO, will improve distance
measurements by more than a factor of two, producing more accurate
distances with uncertainties that are of the order of ~6%. Lastly,
most planetary nebula distance scales in the literature are
statistical. They require several anchor points of known distance in
order to calibrate their zero point. Our program will provide "gold
standard" anchor points by the end of 2006, a decade before any
anticipated results from future space astrometry missions.

ACS/HRC 10377

ACS Earth Flats

High signal sky flats will be obtained by observing the bright Earth
with the HRC and WFC. These observations will be used to verify the
accuracy of the flats currently used by the pipeline and will provide
a comparison with flats derived via other techniques: L-flats from
stellar observations, sky flats from stacked GO observations, and
internal flats using the calibration lamps. Weekly coronagraphic
monitoring is required to assess the changing position of the spots.

ACS/WFC 10369

ACS internal CTE monitor

The charge transfer efficiency {CTE} of the ACS CCD detectors will
decline as damage due to on-orbit radiation exposure accumulates. This
degradation will be closely monitored at regular intervals, because it
is likely to determine the useful lifetime of the CCDs. All the data
for this program is acquired using internal targets {lamps} only, so
all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time
{but not during SAA passages}. This program emulates the ACS
pre-flight ground calibration and post-launch SMOV testing {program
8948}, so that results from each epoch can be directly compared.
Extended Pixel Edge Response {EPER} and First Pixel Response {FPR}
data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for both the Wide
Field Channel {WFC}, and the High Resolution Channel {HRC}.


ACS CCDs daily monitor- cycle 13 – part 1

This program consists of a set of basic tests to monitor, the read
noise, the development of hot pixels and test for any source of noise
in ACS CCD detectors. The files, biases and dark will be used to
create reference files for science calibration. This programme will be
for the entire lifetime of ACS.


The HST survey of the Orion Nebula Cluster

We propose a Treasury Program of 104 HST orbits to perform the
definitive study of the Orion Nebula Cluster, the Rosetta stone of
star formation. We will cover with unprecedented sensitivity {23-25
mag}, dynamic range {~12 mag}, spatial resolution {50mas}, and
simultaneous spectral coverage {5 bands} a ~450 square arcmin field
centered on the Trapezium stars. This represents a tremendous gain
over the shallow WFC1 study made in 1991 with the aberrated HST on an
area ~15 times smaller. We maximize the HST observing efficiency using
ACS/WFC and WFPC2 in parallel with two opposite roll angles, to cover
the same total field. We will assemble the richest, most accurate and
unbiased HR diagram for pre-main-sequence objects ever made. Combined
with the optical spectroscopy already available for ~1000 sources and
new deep near-IR imaging and spectroscopy {that we propose as Joint
HST-NOAO observations}, we will be able to attack and possibly solve
the most compelling questions on stellar evolution: the calibration of
pre-main-sequence evolutionary tracks, mass segration and the
variation of the initial mass function in different environments, the
evolution of mass accretion rates vs. age and environment, disk
dissipation in environments dominated by hard vs. soft-UV radiation,
stellar multiplicity vs. disk fraction. In addition, we expect to
discover and classify an unknown, but substantial, population of
pre-Main Sequence binaries, low mass stars and brown dwarfs down to
~10 MJup. This is also the best possible way to discover dark
silhouette disks in the outskirts of the Orion Nebula and study their
evolutionary status through multicolor imaging. This program is timely
and extremely well leveraged to other programs targeting Orion: the
ACS H-alpha survey of the Orion Nebula, the recently completed 850ks
ultradeep Chandra survey, the large GTO programs to be performed with
SIRTF, plus the availability of 2MASS and various deep JHK surveys of
the core recently done with 8m class telescopes.

ACS/WFC 10229

Space Motions for the Draco and Sextans Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies

We will use the powerful astrometric capabilities of HST to measure
proper motions for the Draco and Sextans dwarf spheroidal galaxies
that will yield tangential velocities accurate to about 30 km/s. These
two galaxies are the last inside a galactocentric radius of 200~kpc
without measured proper motions. Knowing their orbits is critical for
our understanding of the low-luminosity satellites of the Milky Way.
In particular they are critical for understanding why Ursa Minor has
survived tidal disruption on its plunging orbit and how Carina formed
a large intermediate-age stellar population despite its small mass.

ACS/WFC 10217

The ACS Fornax Cluster Survey

The two rich clusters nearest to the Milky Way, and the only large
collections of early-type galaxies within ~ 25 Mpc, are the Virgo and
Fornax Clusters. We propose to exploit the exceptional imaging
capabilities of the ACS/WFC to carry out the most comprehensive
imaging survey to date of early-type galaxies in Fornax: the ACS
Fornax Cluster Survey. Deep ACS/WFC images — in the F475W {g’} and
F850LP {z’} bands — will be acquired for 44 E, S0, dE, dE, N and dS0
cluster members. In Cycle 11, we initiated a similar program targeting
early-type galaxies in the Virgo Cluster {the ACS Virgo Cluster
Survey; GO-9401}. Our proposed survey of Fornax would yield an
extraordinary dataset which would complement that already in hand for
Virgo, and allow a definitive study of the role played by environment
in the structure, formation and evolution of early-type galaxies and
their globular cluster systems, nuclei, stellar populations, dust
content, nuclear morphologies and merger histories. It would also be a
community resource for years to come and, together with the ACS Virgo
Cluster Survey, constitute one of the lasting legacies of HST.

ACS/WFC 10210

Groups of Dwarf Galaxies: Pools of Mostly Dark Matter?

Within 5 Mpc, there are 6 groups with well-known luminous galaxies but
there also appears to be a comparable number of groups containing only
dwarfs. If these dwarf entities are truly bound then M/L values are an
order of magnitude higher than values found for groups with luminous
spiral galaxies. There are theoretical reasons to anticipate that low
mass halos may frequently be mostly dark. The dynamical influence of
low mass halos is negligible in familiar groups with luminous members.
By contrast, a study of the dynamics of `groups of dwarfs’ may provide
direct evidence of the existence of dark matter potential wells with
few baryons. The goal of the present study is to gather detailed
information on the 3-D distribution of dwarf galaxies suspected to lie
within 7 groups of dwarfs within 5 Mpc. Distances with 7% relative
accuracy can be measured with the Tip of the Giant Branch method with
ACS and integrations within 1 orbit per target.

NIC2 10177

Solar Systems In Formation: A NICMOS Coronagraphic Survey of
Protoplanetary and Debris Disks

Until recently, despite decades of concerted effort applied to
understanding the formation processes that gave birth to our solar
system, the detailed morphology of circumstellar material that must
eventually form planets has been virtually impossible to discern. The
advent of high contrast, coronagraphic imaging as implemented with the
instruments aboard HST has dramatically enhanced our understanding of
natal planetary system formation. Even so, only a handful of evolved
disks {~ 1 Myr and older} have been imaged and spatially resolved in
light scattered from their constituent grains. To elucidate the
physical processes and properties in potentially planet-forming
circumstellar disks, and to understand the nature and evolution of
their grains, a larger spatially resolved and photometrically reliable
sample of such systems must be observed. Thus, we propose a highly
sensitive circumstellar disk imaging survey of a well-defined and
carefully selected sample of YSOs {1-10 Myr T Tau and HAeBe stars} and
{> app 10 Myr} main sequence stars, to probe the posited epoch of
planetary system formation, and to provide this critically needed
imagery. Our resolved images will shed light on the spatial
distributions of the dust in these thermally emissive disks. In
combination with their long wavelength SEDs the physical properties of
the grains will be discerned, or constrained by our photometrically
accurate surface brightness sensitivity limits for faint disks which
elude detection. Our sample builds on the success of the exploratory
GTO 7233 program, using two-roll per orbit PSF-subtracted NICMOS
coronagraphy to provide the highest detection sensitivity to the
smallest disks around bright stars which can be imaged with HST. Our
sample will discriminate between proposed evolutionary scenarios while
providing a legacy of cataloged morphologies for interpreting mid- and
far-IR SEDs that the recently launched Spitzer Space Telescope will

NIC2 10176

Coronagraphic Survey for Giant Planets Around Nearby Young Stars

A systematic imaging search for extra-solar Jovian planets is now
possible thanks to recent progress in identifying "young stars near
Earth". For most of the proposed young {<~ 30 Myrs} and nearby {<~ 60
pc} targets, we can detect a few Jupiter-mass planets as close as a
few tens of AUs from the primary stars. This represents the first time
that potential analogs of our solar system – that is planetary systems
with giant planets having semi-major axes comparable to those of the
four giant planets of the Solar System – come within the grasp of
existing instrumentation. Our proposed targets have not been observed
for planets with the Hubble Space Telescope previously. Considering
the very successful earlier NICMOS observations of low mass brown
dwarfs and planetary disks among members of the TW Hydrae Association,
a fair fraction of our targets should also turn out to posses low mass
brown dwarfs, giant planets, or dusty planetary disks because our
targets are similar to {or even better than} the TW Hydrae stars in
terms of youth and proximity to Earth. Should HST time be awarded and
planetary mass candidates be found, proper motion follow-up of
candidate planets will be done with ground-based AOs.

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.

NIC2 10173

Infrared Snapshots of 3CR Radio Galaxies

Radio galaxies are an important class of extragalactic objects: they
are one of the most energetic astrophysical phenomena and they provide
an exceptional probe of the evolving Universe, lying typically in high
density regions but well-represented across a wide redshift range. In
earlier Cycles we carried out extensive HST observations of the 3CR
sources in order to acquire a complete and quantitative inventory of
the structure, contents and evolution of these important objects.
Amongst the results, we discovered new optical jets, dust lanes,
face-on disks with optical jets, and revealed point-like nuclei whose
properties support FR-I/BL Lac unified schemes. Here, we propose to
obtain NICMOS infrared images of 3CR sources with z<0.3 as a major
enhancement to an already superb dataset. We aim to deshroud dusty
galaxies, study the underlying host galaxy free from the distorting
effects of dust, locate hidden regions of star formation and establish
the physical characteristics of the dust itself. We will measure
frequency and spectral energy distributions of point-like nuclei,
expected to be stronger and more prevalent in the IR, seek spectral
turnovers in known synchrotron jets and find new jets. We will
strongly test unified AGN schemes and merge these data with existing
X-ray to radio observations. The resulting database will be an
incredibly valuable resource to the astronomical community for years
to come.

NIC2 10149

The Coevolution of Supermassive Black Holes and Galaxies at z~3

The existence of strong correlations between the mass of supermassive
black holes and galaxy bulge properties implies that there is an
intimate connection between their formation and evolution. How do
supermassive black holes grow and how did the correlations come about?
Is the growth of supermassive black holes coeval with the growth of
the bulge, and is a bulge necessary for AGN activity at high z? We
propose to use HST NICMOS to image 9 low-luminosity broad-line AGNs at
z~3 in the restframe B-band, identified through the Lyman-break
technique. This sample is unique because the AGN luminosities are
comparable to Seyfert-like nuclei at z~3, and thus are some of the
lowest that have been selected optically. Because of the low total
luminosity of the sample, the hosts are likely to be Lyman-break
galaxies, which are believed to be the progenitor galaxies of the
local Hubble sequence. The goal is to directly detect their host
galaxies and to separate the AGN, in order to study the host galaxy
morphology and luminosity. From measurement of the bulge luminosity
and black hole mass {through available spectra}, we will study the
black hole-bulge coevolution out to z~3. We will also compare the
luminosity and morphology of these faint AGN hosts with the more
luminous and massive host galaxies found in previous HST studies of

ACS/WFC 10126

The 3-D Shape of the SMC: Is It Tidally Distorted?

We propose to exploit the exceptional spatial resolution of HST to
definitively show whether the SMC is tidally elongated along the
line-of-sight, and therefore the status of the Milky Way’s
interaction/destruction of the Magellanic Clouds. We use BVI ACS
images of several crowded SMC fields in the region predicted by models
of the orbit and tidal evolution of the Magellanic Clouds {and by
observations of Cepheids} to have a large depth. We exploit the red
clump feature {and the rarer true horizontal branch} to derive the
depth. Specifically, we will observe six fields along the predicted
region of maximum distance gradient of the SMC, along with two ACS
fields and several WFPC2 fields in the archives, to map out the depth
of the SMC in this region. We are searching for substructure, such as
a tidal tail, that may be present. Crowding in this region of the SMC
is so severe that this project cannot be done from the ground.

FGS 10108

Dynamical Masses and Radii of Four White Dwarf Stars

The cool white dwarf stars WD1639+153 and WD1818+126 were recently
resolved by HST FGS1r to be double degenerate binary systems with
projected separations of 112 mas and 174 mas respectively. At a
distance of less than 50 pc they may both have periods shorter than
about 20 years, making them ideal candidates for follow up studies for
dynamical mass determinations. This will increase the number of white
dwarfs with dynamical mass measurements from the current 4 up to 8.
Continued observations of these white dwarfs along with nearby field
stars with the FGS will accurately determine the orbital elements and
parallax of each system. The mass and radius of all four white dwarfs
can be determined to an unprecedented 1%, making it possible to test
and calibrate the theoretical white dwarf mass radius relation at the
cool end of the cooling curve for the DA and DC subclasses. Since the
components of the binary are coeval, once the mass and radius, and
hence the cooling age of each star is known, it will be possible to
estimate the relation between the initial mass and final mass for all
four white dwarfs. We are requesting a total of 4 HST orbits per year
for the next three cycles to initiate the process that will result in
a determination of the mass and radius of the four white dwarfs.


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

HSTAR 9575 GSACQ (2,1,1) requires multiple attempts to achieve FL-DV,
and Loss of Lock. The GSacq(2,1,1) scheduled at 303/21:57:02 –
22:05:04 experienced a Loss of Lock at 303/22:02:50. Both FGSs were
returned to SSM Control. The Loss of Lock recovery was successful,
with both FGSs in FLDV. There should not have been any science impact
due to this anomaly. Under investigation.

HSTAR 9576 GSACQ(2,1,1) fine lock backup, scan step limit exceeded on
FGS 2. GSACQ(1,2,2) at 304/10:04:02 ended in fine lock backup on FGS 1
due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS 2 at 10:07:08 and again at
10:08:54. Subsequent REACQs at 11:49:49, 13:31:44 and 15:13:51 also
ended in fine lock backup on FGS 1 only. Observations affected: ACS
235, ACS 2 to 19. Under investigation.

HSTAR 9578 U1,2FM update failure. The second FM update of a pair of
U1,2FM updates at 01:09:58 failed with error box results indicating "2
FAILED". The following GSAQ(2,1,1) was successful. Under



                          SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES
FGS Gsacq               35                       35
FGS Reacq               11                       11
FHST Update             46                       45              See HSTAR 


SpaceRef staff editor.