Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3748

By SpaceRef Editor
December 4, 2004
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science




ACS/HRC 10137

Cluster Archeology: The Origin of Ultra-compact Dwarf Galaxies

Ultra-compact dwarf {UCD} galaxies are a new type of galaxy we have
discovered in the central regions of the Fornax and Virgo galaxy
clusters. Our most recent observations in the Fornax Cluster show that
UCDs outnumber normal galaxies in the centre of that cluster. Here we
propose snapshot imaging of UCDs in the Fornax and Virgo clusters to
test theories of how these fascinating objects formed. In particular
we wish to image Virgo cluster UCDs for which we have ground-based
Keck spectroscopy to test predictions that they formed more recently
than the Fornax UCDs.

ACS/HRC 10376

ACS Internal Flat Field Stability

The stability of the CCD flat fields will be monitored using the
calibration lamps and a sub-sample of the filter set. High signal
observations will be used to assess the stability of the pixel-to-
pixel flat field structure and to monitor the position of the dust
motes. Only internal exposures with the calibration lamps will be


CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

Hot pixel annealing will continue to be performed once every 4 weeks.
The CCD TECs will be turned off and heaters will be activated to bring
the detector temperatures to about +20C. This state will be held for
approximately 12 hours, after which the heaters are turned off, the
TECs turned on, and the CCDs returned to normal operating condition.
To assess the effectiveness of the annealing, a bias and four dark
images will be taken before and after the annealing procedure for both
WFC and HRC. The HRC darks are taken in parallel with the WFC darks.
The charge transfer efficiency {CTE} of the ACS CCD detectors declines
as damage due to on-orbit radiation exposure accumulates. This
degradation has been closely monitored at regular intervals, because
it is likely to determine the useful lifetime of the CCDs. We will now
combine the annealing activity with the charge transfer efficiency
monitoring and also merge into the routine dark image collection. To
this end, the CTE monitoring exposures have been moved into this
proposal . 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


The COSMOS 2-Degree ACS Survey

We will undertake a 2 square degree imaging survey {Cosmic Evolution
Survey — COSMOS} with ACS in the I {F814W} band of the VIMOS
equatorial field. This wide field survey is essential to understand
the interplay between Large Scale Structure {LSS} evolution and the
formation of galaxies, dark matter and AGNs and is the one region of
parameter space completely unexplored at present by HST. The
equatorial field was selected for its accessibility to all
ground-based telescopes and low IR background and because it will
eventually contain ~100, 000 galaxy spectra from the VLT-VIMOS
instrument. The imaging will detect over 2 million objects with I> 27
mag {AB, 10 sigma}, over 35, 000 Lyman Break Galaxies {LBGs} and
extremely red galaxies out to z ~ 5. COSMOS is the only HST project
specifically designed to probe the formation and evolution of
structures ranging from galaxies up to Coma-size clusters in the epoch
of peak galaxy, AGN, star and cluster formation {z ~0.5 to 3}. The
size of the largest structures necessitate the 2 degree field. Our
team is committed to the assembly of several public ancillary datasets
including the optical spectra, deep XMM and VLA imaging, ground-based
optical/IR imaging, UV imaging from GALEX and IR data from SIRTF.
Combining the full-spectrum multiwavelength imaging and spectroscopic
coverage with ACS sub-kpc resolution, COSMOS will be Hubble’s ultimate
legacy for understanding the evolution of both the visible and dark

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.

NIC1 10143

Ultracool companions to the nearest L dwarfs

We propose to conduct the most sensitive survey to date for low mass
companions to nearby L dwarfs. We will use NICMOS to image targets
drawn from a volume-complete sample of 70 L dwarfs within 20 parsecs.
The combination of infrared imaging and proximity will allow us to
search for T dwarf companions at separations as small as 1.6 AU. This
is crucial, since no ultracool binaries are currently known with
separations exceeding 15 AU. Only 10 dwarfs in this sample have
previous HST observations primarily at optical wavelengths. With the
increased sensitivity of our survey, we will provide the most
stringent test to date of brown dwarf models which envisage formation
as ejected stellar embryos. In addition, our observations will be
capable of detecting binaries with mass ratios as low as 0.3, and will
therefore also test the apparent preference for equal-mass ultracool
binaries. Finally, our observations offer the best prospect to date of
detecting companions significantly cooler than the coolest t dwarf
currently known.

NIC1 10208

NICMOS Differential Imaging Search for Planetary Mass Companions to
Nearby Young Brown Dwarfs

We propose to use the differential spectral imaging capability of
HST/NICMOS {NIC1} to search for planetary mass companions. We target
the twelve most nearby {within 30 pc}, isolated {no known close
companion}, and young {< 1Gyr} brown dwarfs. All of them have spectral
type L and show signs of Lithium absorption, which clearly proves
their substellar nature and youth. Planetary mass companions with
masses down to 6 Jupiter masses, and at separations larger than 3 A.U.
are bright enough for a direct detection with HST/NICMOS using the
spectral differential imaging technique in two narrow-band filters
placed on and off molecular bands. The proposed project has the
potential to lead to the first direct detection of a planetary mass
object in orbit around a nearby brown dwarf.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8794

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 5

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.

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.

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 deliver.

NIC3 9846

The Origins of Sub-stellar Masses: Searching for the End of the IMF

Is there a preferred scale that defines the end of the IMF? We propose
to test this hypothesis by conducting a deep spectroscopic survey of
extremely low mass objects in the embedded young cluster associated
with NGC1333. At a distance of only 300pc, this cluster is one of the
nearest examples of a dense young cluster. We will be able to obtain
R=200 spectra and photometry for 40-60 cluster members with masses
between 5-40 Jupiter masses at an age of 1 Myr observed through
A{v}<10 mag. This will enable us to estimate temperatures and
luminosities for all sources detected in the survey. We will compare
their positions in an H-R diagram to PMS evolutionary tracks in order
to estimate their ages and masses. For a solar metallicity cloud at a
temperature of 10 K, the minimum mass for fragmentation is thought to
be 10 Jupiter masses. A statistically significant sample of objects
detected below this limit would challenge the role of hierarchical
fragmentation in limiting substellar masses. The proximity of this
cluster combined with the unique sensitivity, wavelength coverage, and
multi-object spectroscopic capability of NICMOS on HST make this
experiment possible.


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

HSTAR 9616: GS Acquisition (2,1,2) @ 337/14:11:32Z resulted in FL
backup (2,0,2) using FGS 2 due to SSLE on FGS 1 after multiple
attempts. Prior FHST FM Updates @ 337/14:06:02Z and 14:08:47Z showed
good attitude error vector. Subsequent FHST Map @ 337/14:19:48Z
showed 3-axis (RSS) value ~ 5.000 arcsec. Subsequent GS Reacquisition
(2,1,2) @ 337/15:11:59Z resulted in FL backup (2,0,2). Under


17336-0 Null Genslews for Proposal 10398 Slots 10,11,12 (No Commanding
Needed) @337/2335z


1291-0 486 FSW Load Clean-up Post FSW 2.6C Install @337/1757z

                           SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES
FGS Gsacq                9                         9
FGS Reacq                7                         7
FHST Update             11                        11


SpaceRef staff editor.