Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3821

By SpaceRef Editor
March 23, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3821

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        # 3821



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 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.


Accurate and Robust Calibration of the Extragalactic Distance Scale
with the Maser Galaxy NGC4258 II

The extragalactic distance scale {EDS} is defined by a comparison of
Cepheid Period- Luminosity {PL} relations for nearby galaxies and the
LMC, whose uncertain distance is thereby the SOLE anchor. Studies of
masers orbiting the central black hole in NGC4258 have provided the
most accurate extragalactic distance ever {7.2+/-0.5 Mpc}, and new
radio data and analysis techniques will reduce the uncertainty to < 3.5% {0.07 mag} by 2005. Since this distance is well determined and based on geometric arguments, NGC4258 can provide a much needed new anchor for the EDS. Ultimately, the combination of an independent measurement of H0 and measurements of CMB fluctuations {e.g., WMAP} can be used to directly constrain cosmological parameters including the equation of state of dark energy. In our Cycle 12 proposal, we defined a program spanning two cycles. The Cycle 12 portion was accepted. We have acquired WFC images and are constructing well sampled PL relations in 3 colors {BVI}. The purpose of the Cycle 13 observations is to address systematic sources of error and is crucial for the success of the entire program. To disentangle the effects of reddening and metallicity, and to characterize the effects of blending, we require 50 orbits to obtain H-band photometry {NICMOS/NIC2} and high resolution images {ACS/HRC}.

ACS/WFC 10235

Dark vs. luminous matter in the CenA/M83 galaxy complex

The distribution of dark vs. luminous matter on scales of 0.1-1.0 Mpc
remains poorly understood. For a nearby group, the total mass can be
determined from the radius of “the zero-velocity surface”, which
separates the group from the general Hubble flow. This new method
requires the measurement of accurate distances and radial velocities
of galaxies around the group, but gives total mass estimates
independent of assumptions about the state of relaxation or orbital
characteristics. The mass pertains to the group at the full scale to
which it is bound. Upon application in several nearest groups, the
method yields mass estimates in agreement with the sum of the virial
masses of subcomponents. However, the typical total M/L ratio for the
nearby groups of ~30 Mo/Lo implies a local mean density of matter
which is only 1/7 the canonical global density . The nearby complex of
galaxies around Cen A and M83 resembles our Local Group by the
dumb-bell concentration of objects around a pair of dominant galaxies.
Accurate distances have been acquired recently for ~20 group members
by the TRGB method using HST. We will measure TRGB distances to the 17
remaining galaxies in the region. These observations will constrain
the dynamical state of the halo surrounding the nearest giant E-galaxy
Cen A, providing a comparison with the halos of the nearest spirals.

ACS/WFC 10378

ACS Polarimetry Calibration

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


Resolving the Red Giant Population in Early Type Galaxies

This project addresses the fundamental issue of the age and abundance
of the stellar populations in early type galaxies. We propose deep
imaging observations with ACS/WFC in F606W, F814W, and NICMOS/NIC2 in
F110W, F160W to create optical/IR color-magnitude diagrams of the
upper red giant branch in the nearest example of a bona fide
elliptical galaxy, NGC3379, and simultaneously in the disk and halo of
its companion, the S0 galaxy NGC3384. These observations will build
upon the results from our NICMOS study of NGC3379, which produced the
first deep IR color-magnitude data for a normal, luminous elliptical
galaxy. This is the most direct way to establish the metallicity,
metallicity spread, and presence of intermediate age populations in
these representative Hubble types, exploring their star formation
histories and evolution. The data will enable comparison with M32, the
M31 halo, NGC5128, and other nearby galaxies similarly observed with


The White Dwarf Cooling Age and Dynamical History of the Metal-Poor
Globular Cluster NGC 6397

We propose to determine the white dwarf cooling age in the nearest
metal-poor {[Fe/H]=- 2} globular cluster, NGC 6397. This globular
cluster provides the best opportunity to test the white dwarf cooling
age in such a metal-poor system and at the same time provide a
comparison with the more metal-rich cluster {M4} which we recently
successfully observed with HST. Any {or even no} age difference
between these clusters will be important in understanding the
age-metallicity relation for these systems which reflects the star
formation history in the early Galaxy. The absolute age is an
important cosmological constraint. We expect to be able to detect age
DIFFERENCES between these clusters at the 0.5 Gyr level and absolute
ages should be accurate to 1.0 Gyr. In addition, and in contrast with
M4, NGC 6397 is highly dynamically evolved, has a collapsed core, and
the distribution of its white dwarfs throughout the cluster have
almost certainly been modified by dynamical processes. We are using
N-body simulations specifically developed for this cluster to
understand these modifications and to include their effects in our
measurement of the white dwarf luminosity function and cooling age.
Among the dynamical questions we expect to answer with this proposal
are: 1} what was the primordial binary frequency in NGC 6397? 2} can
we explain the high central concentration with a population of massive
white dwarfs and/or neutron stars? 3} do we see sufficient central
binaries to reverse the core collapse of the cluster?

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8792

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 3

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 10169

Star Formation in Luminous Infrared Galaxies: giant HII Regions and
Super Star Clusters

Luminous Infrared Galaxies {LIRGs, LIR = 10^11-10^12Lsol} and
Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies {LIR>10^12Lsol} account for
approximately 75% of all the galaxies detected in the mid-infrared in
the redshift range z=0-1.5. In the local universe it is found that
LIRGs are predominantly powered by intense star formation {SF}.
However, the physical conditions and processes governing such dramatic
activity over scales of tens to a few hundred parsecs are poorly
known. In the last decade HST has been playing a significant role,
mainly with the discovery of super star clusters {SSCs}, and more
recently, giant HII regions. Based on observations of a few LIRGs, we
found that these giant HII regions and associated SSCs appear to be
more common in LIRGs than in normal galaxies, and may dominate the
star formation activity in LIRGs. A larger sample is required to
address fundamental questions. We propose an HST/NICMOS targeted
campaign of a volume limited sample {v<5200km/s} of 24 LIRGs. This proposal will probe the role of giant HII regions in the overall energetics of the current star formation, their relation to SSCs, and the dependence of star formation properties on other parameters of LIRGs. Such detailed knowledge of the SF properties of LIRGs in the local universe is essential for understanding galaxies at high redshift.

NIC3 10150

NICMOS observations of A1689

The potential of galaxy clusters as “cosmic telescopes” has been
known for a long time, but practical results in the pre-ACS era have
been scarce due to two main problems: the uncertainty in determining
the magnification distribution of the cluster {the “optics” of the
instrument} and the presence of numerous bright cluster galaxies which
cover the field of view and hinder the detection of background
galaxies. We have developed techniques to solve these two problems
working with our ACS observations of A1689, the most powerful lens in
the sky, and for the first time we have been able to determine the
“specifications” of a cosmic telescope with a useful level of
precision, thanks to the detection and identification of more than 100
multiple images with reliable redshift information. We propose to
observe the high magnification region in the A1689 field in the F110W
band with a 3×3 mosaic of NIC3 pointings; the resulting image will
reach a lens-corrected limiting magnitudes of 29.5 for point sources,
surpassing in depth the UDF NICMOS observations and providing an
unique dataset with multiple scientific returns.

WFPC2 10359

WFPC2 CYCLE 13 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.


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



                             SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES 
 FGS Gsacq                  8                         8 
 FGS Reacq                  7                         7 
 FHST Update               11                        11 


SpaceRef staff editor.