Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3882

By SpaceRef Editor
June 17, 2005
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT     #3882

PERIOD COVERED: UT June 15, 2005 (DOY 166)


ACS/HRC 10182

Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Type Ia Supernovae: The
Necessity of UV Observations

Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} are very important to many diverse areas
of astrophysics, from the chemical evolution of galaxies to
observational cosmology which led to the discovery of dark energy and
the accelerating Universe. However, the utility of SNe Ia as
cosmological probes depends on the degree of our understanding of SN
Ia physics, and various systematic effects such as cosmic chemical
evolution. At present, the progenitors of SNe Ia and the exact
explosion mechanisms are still poorly understood, as are evolutionary
effects on SN Ia peak luminosities. Since early-time UV spectra and
light curves of nearby SNe Ia can directly address these questions, we
propose an approach consisting of two observational components: {1}
Detailed studies of two very bright, young, nearby SNe Ia with HST UV
spectroscopy at 13 epochs within the first 1.5 months after discovery;
and {2} studies of correlations with luminosity for five somewhat more
distant Hubble-flow SNe Ia, for which relative luminosities can be
determined with precision, using 8 epochs of HST UV spectroscopy
and/or broad-band imaging. The HST data, along with extensive
ground-based optical to near-IR observations, will be analyzed with
state-of-the-art models to probe SN Ia explosion physics and constrain
the nature of the progenitors. The results will form the basis for the
next phase of precision cosmology measurements using SNe Ia, allowing
us to more fully capitalize on the substantial past {and future}
investments of time made with HST in observations of high-redshift SNe

ACS/HRC 10198

Probing the Dynamics of the Galactic Bar through the Kinematics of
Microlensed Stars

The observed optical depths to microlensing of stars in the Galactic
bulge are difficult to reconcile with our present understanding of
Galactic dynamics. The main source of uncertainty in those comparisons
is now shifting from microlensing measurements to the dynamical models
of the Galactic bar. We propose to constrain the Galactic bar models
with proper motion observations of Bulge stars that underwent
microlensing by determining both the kinematic identity of the
microlensed sources and the importance of streaming motions. The
lensed stars are typically farther than randomly selected stars.
Therefore, our proper motion determinations for 36 targeted MACHO
events will provide valuable constraints on the dynamics of bulge
stars as a function of distance. The first epoch data for our proposed
events is already available in the HST archive so the project can be
completed within a single HST cycle. The exceptional spatial
resolution of HST is essential for completion of the project.
Constraints on the total mass in the bulge will ultimately lead to the
determination of the amount of dark matter in inner Galaxy.

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.

ACS/HRC 10422

Resolving Changes on Triton’s Surface: Imaging over Triton’s full
longitudinal range.

We have found, from ground-based photometry, evidence of possible
seasonal surface changes on Triton which may be brought about by
geophysical activity and which have transpired since as recently as
1995. We propose to confirm and characterize these changes using the
HST ACS instrument to image Triton at UV, B, V, I and Methane-band
wavelengths over as much of its surface as visible from near Earth. By
so doing, we will determine the resurfacing rates and set model
constraints on activity and surface temperature as well as
composition. Such constraints have profound implications for our
understanding of Triton’s evolution as well as the history of other
outer solar system bodies, including outer solar system satellites
which may undergo similar geophysical processes or have similar


ACS CCDs daily monitor – Cycle 13 – Part 2

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 program 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}.


The Formation and Evolution of Spirals: An ACS and WFPC2 Imaging
Survey of Nearby Galaxies

Over 50% of galaxies in the local universe are spirals. Yet the star
formation histories and evolution of this crucial population remain
poorly understood. We propose to combine archival data with new
ACS/WFC and WFPC2 observations of 11 galaxies, to tackle a
comprehensive investigation of nearby spirals covering the entire
spiral sequence. The new observations will fill a serious deficiency
in HST’s legacy, and maximize the scientific return of existing HST
data. The filter combination of UBVI, and Halpha is ideal for studying
stellar populations, dust properties, and the ISM. Our immediate
scientific objectives are: {i} to use the resolved cluster
populations, both young massive clusters and ancient globular clusters
as a chronometer, to understand how spirals assembled as a function of
time; {ii} study the rapid disruption properties of young clusters;
and {iii} understand dust distributions in spirals from pc to kpc
scales. Each of these goals provides an important step towards
charting the evolution of galaxies, and an essential baseline for
interpreting the galaxy populations being surveyed in both the early
and present universe. The resolution of our survey, which exploits the
excellent imaging capabilities of HST’s two optical cameras, will
enable us to understand the record of star cluster, and galaxy
formation in a level of detail which is not possible for more distant
systems. Finally, the proposed observations will provide a key to
interpret an extensive, multiwavelength archive of space- and ground-
based data at lower spatial resolution {SPITZER, CHANDRA, GALEX,
NICMOS P alpha and H band imaging} for local spirals.

FGS 10610

Astrometric Masses of Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs

We propose observations with HST/FGS to estimate the astrometric
elements {perturbation orbit semi-major axis and inclination} of
extra-solar planets orbiting six stars. These companions were
originally detected by radial velocity techniques. We have
demonstrated that FGS astrometry of even a short segment of reflex
motion, when combined with extensive radial velocity information, can
yield useful inclination information {McArthur et al. 2004}, allowing
us to determine companion masses. Extrasolar planet masses assist in
two ongoing research frontiers. First, they provide useful boundary
conditions for models of planetary formation and evolution of
planetary systems. Second, knowing that a star in fact has a plantary
mass companion, increases the value of that system to future
extrasolar planet observation missions such as SIM PlanetQuest, TPF,
and GAIA.

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 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 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 10428

The colours of QSO host galaxies at z=2 and the evolution of their
stellar masses

We propose to use NICMOS imaging to measure the rest-frame optical/UV
colours of a complete sample of 10 QSO host galaxies at redshifts
between z=1.5 and z=2. From our cycle 11 HST observations {the GEMS
project} we know that QSO host galaxies at redshifts of z~1 show blue
colors despite having early-type morphologies. This is in excellent
agreement with recent SDSS results on low-z AGN hosts, suggesting that
QSO-type activity in galaxies correlates strongly with the presence of
a young stellar population. Our proposed NICMOS observations will
allow us to test the validity of this hypothesis out to z~2, by
relating the observed QSO host colours to those of normal galaxies at
similar redshifts taken from GOODS. We have already established within
GEMS that the QSO hosts in our sample possess substantial UV
luminosities, most likely originating from young stars. Knowing
rest-frame colors, we can estimate stellar ages and stellar masses.
For the first time will it be possible to determine the evolution of
stellar masses in QSO host galaxies from z=2, the epoch of maximum QSO
activity, to the present. Our results will shed light on the relation
between nuclear activity and the star formation history of galaxies,
and how these processes may jointly drive the cosmic evolution of QSOs
and galaxies.

WFPC2 10132

UV Confirmation of New Quasar Sightlines Suitable for the Study of
Intergalactic Helium

The reionization of intergalactic helium is thought to have occurred
between redshifts of about 3 and 4. The study of HeII Lyman-alpha
absorption towards a half-dozen quasars at 2.72.9 SDSS quasars, but with special
emphasis on extending helium studies to the highest redshift
sightlines. Our proposed approach has already proven successful, and
additional sightlines will enable follow-up spectal observations to
measure the spectrum and evolution of the ionizing background
radiation, the density of intergalactic baryons, and the epoch of
reionization of the IGM.


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


9848 – GSACQ(1,2,1) results in finelock backup (1,0,1) at AOS
@166/1528z The GSacq(1,2,1) of 166/15:28:07 – 15:36:09 Z which began
during ZOE period resulted to finelock backup (1,0,1) using FGS-1 at
AOS 166/15:37:30 Z, without any indication flags.

9849 – GSACQ(3,2,3) fine lock backup, scan step limit exceeded on FGS
2 @ 167/0128z GSACQ(3,2,3) at 167/01:25:01 ended in fine lock backup
on FGS 3 due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS 2 at 01:28:15.

9850 – Gsacq(1,3,3) Loss of Lock @167/0407z GSacq(1,3,3) suffered a
loss of lock at 167/04:07:11. FGSs recovered lock and new 44 commands
were observed at 04:09:21.



                                SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL    FAILURE TIMES 
 FGS Gsacq                      13                      13 
 FGS Reacq                       4                         4 
 FHST Update                    20                       20 
 LOSS of 
 LOCK                                                           167/0407z 


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