Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3789

By SpaceRef Editor
February 5, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3789

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        # 3789



ACS/HRC 10185

When does Bipolarity Impose itself on the Extreme Mass Outflows from
AGB Stars? An ACS SNAPshot Survey

Essentially all well-characterized preplanetary nebulae {PPNe} —
objects in transition between the AGB and planetary nebula
evolutionary phases – are bipolar, whereas the mass-loss envelopes of
AGB stars are strikingly spherical. In order to understand the
processes leading to bipolar mass-ejection, we need to know at what
stage of stellar evolution does bipolarity in the mass-loss first
manifest itself? Our previous SNAPshot surveys of a PPNe sample {with
ACS & NICMOS} show that roughly half our targets observed are
resolved, with well-defined bipolar or multipolar morphologies.
Spectroscopic surveys of our sample confirm that these objects have
not yet evolved into planetary nebulae. Thus, the transformation from
spherical to aspherical geometries has already fully developed by the
time these dying stars have become preplanetary nebulae. From this new
and surprising result, we hypothesize that the transformation to
bipolarity begins during the very late AGB phase, and happens very
quickly, just before, or as the stars are evolving off the AGB. We
propose to test this hypothesis quantitatively, through a SNAPshot
imaging survey of very evolved AGB stars which we believe are nascent
preplanetary nebulae; with our target list being drawn from published
lists of AGB stars with detected heavy mass-loss {from millimeter-wave
observations}. This survey is crucial for determining how and when the
bipolar geometry asserts itself. Supporting kinematic observations
using long-slit optical spectroscopy {with the Keck}, millimeter and
radio interferometric observations {with OVRO, VLA & VLBA} are being
undertaken. The results from this survey {together with our previous
work} will allow us to draw general conclusions about the onset of
bipolar mass-ejection during late stellar evolution, and will provide
crucial input for theories of post-AGB stellar evolution. Our survey
will produce an archival legacy of long-standing value for future
studies of dying stars.


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.

ACS/WFC 10378

ACS Polarimetry Calibration

Observations are made of the Boomerang Nebula {highly polarized
reflection nebula} to calibrate the ACS polarizers.

ACS/WFC 10429

Streaming Towards Shapley: The Mass of the Richest Galaxy
Concentration in the Local Universe

The 600 km/s motion of the Local Group {LG} with respect to the cosmic
microwave background {CMB} is now known to high accuracy. However, its
precise origin remains poorly understood. The contribution to the
motion from the pull of the rich Shapley supercluster at z = 0.048 is
particularly controversial. This extreme mass concentration contains
more than 20 Abell clusters within 35 Mpc of its very rich central
cluster A3558, and is recognized as both the optically richest and the
most X-ray luminous structure in the local {z < 0.1} universe. Yet, published values for the mass of Shapley continue to differ by an order of magnitude, and recent estimates of its pull on the LG range from negligible {20 km/s} to highly significant {300 km/s or more}. Here we propose to resolve this key issue by using ACS to measure high-precision surface brightness fluctuation {SBF} distances in order to make a direct measurement of the infall towards Shapley. We will target three Shapley foreground clusters where the infall is expected to be high {possibly 1000 km/s or more}, as well as the Shapley core, in order to test the assumption that it is at rest in the CMB. Prior to ACS, the Shapley region was unreachable for SBF, but ACS doubles the distance range of the SBF method with HST, enabling the distances to be measured to the required accuracy. The proposed measurements will place a firm limit on the largest mass fluctuation in the nearby universe and finally determine its contribution to the observed CMB dipole.

ACS/WFC/NIC3 10340


Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} provide the only direct evidence for an
accelerating universe, an extraordinary result that needs the most
rigorous test. The case for cosmic acceleration rests on the
observation that SNe Ia at z = 0.5 are about 0.25 mag fainter than
they would be in a universe without acceleration. A powerful and
straightforward way to assess the reliability of the SN Ia measurement
and the conceptual framework of its interpretation is to look for
cosmic deceleration at z > 1. This would be a clear signature of a
mixed dark-matter and dark-energy universe. Systematic errors in the
SNe Ia result attributed to grey dust or cosmic evolution of the SN Ia
peak luminosity would not show this change of sign. We have obtained a
toehold on this putative “epoch of deceleration” with SN 1997ff at z
= 1.7, and 3 more at z > 1 from our Cycle 11 program, all found and
followed by HST. However, this is too important a test to rest on just
a few objects, anyone of which could be subject to a lensed
line-of-sight or misidentification. Here we propose to extend our
measurement with observations of twelve SNe Ia in the range 1.0 < z < 1.5 or 6 such SNe Ia and 1 ultradistant SN Ia at z = 2, that will be discovered as a byproduct from proposed Treasury and DD programs. These objects will provide a much firmer foundation for a conclusion that touches on important questions of fundamental physics.


NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 2

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.


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



                            SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES 
 FGS Gsacq                 10                       10 
 FGS Reacq                  06                       06 
 FHST Update               13                       13 


SpaceRef staff editor.