Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3902

By SpaceRef Editor
July 21, 2005
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT July 14, 2005 (DOY 195)


ACS/HRC 10094

Mid-Ultraviolet Spectral Templates for Old Stellar Systems

We propose a three-year program to provide both observational and
theoretical mid- ultraviolet {2300A — 3100A} spectral templates for
interpreting the age and metallicity of globular clusters and
elliptical galaxies from spectra of their integrated light. The mid-UV
is the region most directly influenced by stellar age, and is observed
directly in optical and infrared studies of high-redshift quiescent
systems. The reliability of age and metallicity determinations remains
questionable until non-solar metallicities and abundance ratios are
considered, and stars spanning the color-magnitude diagram are
included, as we propose here. With archival HST STIS spectra we have
improved the list of mid-UV atomic line parameters, then calculated
spectra from first principles which match observed spectra of standard
stars up to one- fourth solar metallicity. We will extend both
observations and calculations to stars of solar metallicity and
beyond, and to those in short-lived stages hotter than the
main-sequence turnoff, stars not currently well-represented in
empirical libraries. The necessary line-list improvements will come
from new high-resolution mid-UV spectra of nine field stars. A key
application of the results of this program will be to the old systems
now being discovered as `Extremely Red Objects’ at high redshifts.
Reliable age-dating of these places constraints on the epoch when
large structures first formed in the universe.

ACS/HRC 10435

Merger-Induced Populations in Early-Type Galaxy Cores

Hierarchical formation models predict that early-type galaxies are
built up over an extended period from mergers of smaller systems, a
process which should leave long- lived signatures in their light
profiles and stellar population colors. Merger events should have
continued up to relatively recent times {the last 1-5 Gyr}, and many
ellipticals and S0 bulges should therefore show evidence of multiple,
discrete, intermediate-age populations. Although there is substantial
observational support for a dissipational merger origin for some
early-type galaxies, most do not exhibit the expected anomalies in
either their light profiles or color distributions. However, existing
searches {mainly in the V and I bands} have not probed very deeply.
Here we propose high resolution, broad-band, near-ultraviolet
{2500-3400 A} imaging of the cores of bright early-type galaxies. This
is the most sensitive probe available for the detection of
spatially-segregated, multiple population components with ages in the
range 1-5 Gyr. Our sample consists of dust- and AGN-free systems with
both normal and mildly anomalous central light profiles. There is very
little existing information on the near-UV structure of early-type
galaxies, and our program would effectively explore new terrain.

ACS/HRC 10627

A Snapshot Survey of Post-AGB Objects and Proto-Planetary Nebulae

We propose an ACS/HRC snapshot survey of 50 post-AGB sources, objects
which have evolved from the AGB but may or may not become planetary
nebulae {PNe}. This survey will complement existing HST images of
proto-planetary nebulae {PPNe} and PNe in addressing circumstellar
envelope morphology as a function of: 1} the progenitor star mass; 2}
the chemical composition; and 3} evolutionary stage. We will connect
the observed diversity of nebualar shapes with the main physical and
chemical conditions characterizing post-AGB objects, to identify the
mechanism that breaks the symmetry of AGB mass loss. To our knowledge,
no previous HST projects have been specifically designed to address
this issue. From our database of 360 post-AGB candidates, we have
selected approximately 50 targets, none of which have been or are
being observed with HST, to sample different central star masses,
chemical compositions, and evolutionary stages, uniformly across the
sky. These new data will also provide important constraints to a
quantitative analysis of Spitzer Space Telescope {SST} observations
planned for a similar sample of objects. We will model the HST images
and SST spectra using our axisymmetric dust code 2-Dust, to derive
dust density distributions, pole to equator density ratios, dust shell
masses, inclination angles as well as dust composition.

ACS/HRC 9973

Intensive Coverage of the Eta Carinae Event in 2003

For a variety of reasons, HST can provide a very special and unique
data set when Eta Car experiences its next spectroscopic event in
mid-2003. Explaining the phenomenon is only part of the motivation.
This star and its ejecta have unique characteristics that make them
important for several branches of astrophysics; and when a
spectroscopic event occurs, it’s like varying the parameters in an
experiment {or rather, set of experiments}. The 2003 event may be the
only chance in the forseeable future to obtain such a data set,
especially with HST. Eta Carinae has extreme parameters; it is
mysterious in surprisingly basic ways; and HST/ACS/HRC can gather
useful data on it at a terrific rate. As we explain below, the
proposed data set will be valuable in several independent ways: It
will help solve a specific set of current problems, it will constitute
a large and unique archival data base for both stellar and nebular
astrophysics, and it will be well-suited for educational uses.

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 10412

The host galaxies of dust-reddened quasars

We have used the 2MASS near-infrared and FIRST radio surveys, together
with the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates to select a sample of
dust-reddened, radio- intermediate quasars. We wish to use ACS to
study the host galaxies of these quasars. The dust reddening of the
quasars makes it possible to study the hosts at rest-frame optical-UV
wavelengths much more easily than the hosts of normal quasars of
similar bolometric luminosity. Our study will compare the hosts of our
dust-reddened quasars to those of normal quasars from the HST archive
to test the hypothesis that dust-reddened quasars are young objects,
whose hosts still show morphological evidence of recent merger events
which triggered the quasar.


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

HSTARS: (None)


  • #17471-1:  TMDIAG & PN Format for AOA @195/2000z
  • #17473-0:  GenSlew for Proposal 10425  Slot 10 @195/1902z
  • #17474-0:  GenSlew for Proposal 10425  Slot 09 @195/1904z


              SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL 
 FGS Gsacq        6           6 
 FGS Reacq        9           9 
 FHST Update      9           9 


SpaceRef staff editor.