Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3910

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2005
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT July 26, 2005 (DOY 207)


ACS/HRC 10180

Ultracompact Blue Dwarfs: Galaxy Formation in the Local Universe?

Recent observations suggest that very low-mass galaxies in the local
universe are still in the process of formation. To investigate this
issue we propose to obtain deep ACS HRC images in the U, V and I bands
of a sample of 11 “ultracompact” blue dwarf galaxies {UCBDs}
identified in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These objects are nearby
{z < 0.009}, actively star-forming, and have extremely small angular and physical sizes {d < 6" and D < 1 kpc}. They also tend to reside in voids. Our WFPC2 images of the prototype object of this class, POX 186, reveal this tiny object to have a highly disturbed morphlogy indicative of a recent {within 10^8 yr} collision between two small {~ 100 pc} clumps of stars that could represent the long-sought building blocks predicted by the Press-Schechter model of hierarchical galaxy formation. This collision has also triggered the formation of a "super" star cluster {SSC} at the object's core that may be the progenitor of a globular cluster. POX 186 thus appears to be a very small dwarf galaxy in the process of formation. This exciting discovery strongly motivates HST imaging of a full sample of UCBDs in order to determine if they have morphologies similar to POX 186. HST images are essential for resolving the structure of these objects, including establishing the presence of SSCs. HST also offers the only way to determine their morphologies in the near UV. The spectra of the objects available from the SDSS will also allow us to measure their star formation rates, dust content and metallicities. In addition to potentially providing the first direct evidence of Press- Schechter building blocks, these data could yield insight into the relationship between galaxy and globular cluster formation, and will serve as a test of the recent "downsizing" model of galaxy formation in which the least massive objects are the last to form.

ACS/HRC 10623

HST Optical Snapshot Survey of Intermediate Redshift Ultraluminous
Infrared Galaxies

Ultraluminous infrared galaxies {ULIGs} are commonly believed to be a
transitory phase in the evolution of disk galaxy mergers into QSOs.
However, a recently reported discrepancy between the morphological and
structural properties of z < 0.13 ULIGs and z = 0.12-0.25 QSOs with M{V} < -23.5 has cast doubt on their evolutionary connection. We propose an ACS snapshot survey of a sample of 39 ULIGs with z = 0.35-1.0. These galaxies are the best suited for comparison with luminous z=0.12-0.25 QSOs because {1} they are at larger lookback times than local ULIGs, and thus are likely representative of the systems that evolve into lower redshift luminous QSOs, {2} they have luminosities comparable to luminous QSOs and, {3} they are selected in a manner that biases the sample towards harboring imbedded AGN, and thus are the most likely precursors to optical QSOs. High resolution HST ACS images will allow a determination of galaxy morphology and reveal the presence of bright AGN. The 2-D profile of each galaxy will be modeled using GALFIT, with the AGN comprising one component of the fit where applicable to better characterize the underlying galaxy. Fundamental parameters {effective radius and surface brightness, and F814W-band magnitude} of the underlying galaxy will thus be measured and compared with the host galaxies of the luminous QSO sample. This imaging campaign will consume a modest amount of HST time, but will provide for the first time a statistically significant view of ULIGs at look-back times of 30-65% the age of the universe, and sufficient resolution and sensitivity to conduct a meaningful comparison with z=0.12-0.25 QSOs, as well as with local {z < 0.3} IRAS- detected and distant {z > 2} SCUBA-detected ULIGs.

ACS/HRC/NIC3 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


Kuiper Belt Binaries: Probes of Early Solar System Evolution

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt are a scientific windfall: in them we have
relatively fragile test particles which can be used as tracers of the
early dynamical evolution of the outer Solar System. We propose a
Snapshot program using the ACS/HRC that has a potential discovery
efficiency an order of magnitude higher than the HST observations that
have already discovered the majority of known transneptunian binaries.
By more than doubling the number of observed objects in dynamically
hot and cold subpopulations we will be able to answer, with
statistical significance, the question of whether these groups differ
in the abundance of binaries as a result of their particular dynamical
paths into the Kuiper Belt. Today’s Kuiper Belt bears the imprints of
the final stages of giant-planet building and migration; binaries may
offer some of the best preserved evidence of that long-ago era.

ACS/WFC 10496

Decelerating and Dustfree: Efficient Dark Energy Studies with
Supernovae and Clusters

We propose a novel HST approach to obtain a dramatically more useful
“dust free” Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} dataset than available with
the previous GOODS searches. Moreover, this approach provides a
strikingly more efficient search-and-follow-up that is primarily
pre-scheduled. The resulting dark energy measurements do not share the
major systematic uncertainty at these redshifts, that of the
extinction correction with a prior. By targeting massive galaxy
clusters at z > 1 we obtain a five-times higher efficiency in
detection of Type Ia supernovae in ellipticals, providing a
well-understood host galaxy environment. These same deep cluster
images then also yield fundamental calibrations required for future
weak lensing and Sunyaev-Zel’dovich measurements of dark energy, as
well as an entire program of cluster studies. The data will make
possible a factor of two improvement on supernova constraints on dark
energy time variation, and much larger improvement in systematic
uncertainty. They will provide both a cluster dataset and a SN Ia
dataset that will be a longstanding scientific resource.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8793

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 4

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 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

NIC3 10385

Spectrophotometry of Solar Analog Stars and Nicmos Grism Calibration

NICMOS IR Standards {4 orbits} In cycle 12, 24 orbits were used to
measure the NICMOS grism mode sensitivities and to establish a set of
IR flux standards with a goal of 1% accuracy. However, the G096
setting shows up to 5% peak-to-peak range among the sensitivities
derived from the three primary WD standards, as shown in Figure 1 {for
the Phase 1 proposal}. The possible causes of this large scatter
include changes in the flat field, a systematic change of sensitivity
with time, and a fundamental limitation of the repeatability for stars
at the WD flux levels. The same residuals for STIS in the 0.8- 1.0
micron overlap range are <1%, so that the problem is not with the fluxes for the three primary standard stars. Either there is a systematic trend in the Nicmos grism data that can be removed with more monitoring; or alternatively, repeating the cycle 12 observations should reduce the error in the mean sensitivity by sqrt{2}, if the deviations among the stars are random instrumental fluctuations. The NICMOS cycle 13 calibration program includes 2 orbits to repeat the observations of the bright standard BD+17d4708, which has a very high S/N, so that any change in its response should reflect an instrumental sensitivity difference between cycle 12 and 13. The four Nicmos orbits in this program include one each for GD71 and GD153 in G096 and G141, while two orbits are required for the repeat of G191B2B, where the G206 mode is also included.

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.

WFPC2 10360


This calibration proposal is the Cycle 13 routine internal monitor for
WFPC2, to be run weekly to monitor the health of the cameras. A
variety of internal exposures are obtained in order to provide a
monitor of the integrity of the CCD camera electronics in both bays
{gain 7 and gain 15}, a test for quantum efficiency in the CCDs, and a
monitor for possible buildup of contaminants on the CCD windows.


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


#9901 – GSacq(2,1,1) results in finelock backup (2,0,2) scan step lmt
exc on FGS-2 @207/12:07:01z The GSacq(2,1,1) scheduled at 207/12:07:01
-12:14:22 resulted in finelock backup (2,0,2) using FGS-2, due to scan
step limit exceeded on FGS-2 durng acquisition walkdown.

#9902 – GSacq(2,1,1) results in finelock backup (2,0,2) scan step lmt
exc on FGS-2 @ 208/06:23:09z The GSacq(2,1,1) scheduled at
208/06:19:48 – 06:27:50 Z resulted in finelock backup (1,0,1) using
FGS-1, due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS-2 during acquisition


#17481-1:  FSW 2.8A RAM installation @ 207/12:26z


               SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL 
 FGS Gsacq        10             10 
 FGS Reacq        06             06 
 FHST Update      19             19 

Flight software (FSW) 2.8 Release A was successfully installed into
HST486 RAM. The 2.8A RAM loads were completed at 207/10:08:15z and the
software was activated at 207/11:23:33z. The post installation RAM
memory dump was completed and verified by FSW. Telemetry was monitored
for 1 orbit following the software activation and everything was

SpaceRef staff editor.