Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3930

By SpaceRef Editor
August 24, 2005
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        # 3930

PERIOD COVERED: UT August 23, 2005 (DOY 235)


ACS/HRC 10525

Characterizing the Near-UV Environment of M Dwarfs: Implications for Extrasolar Planetary Searches and Astrobiology

We propose SNAP observations with the ACS HRC PR200L prism, designed to measure the near ultraviolet emission in a sample of 107 nearby M dwarfs. The sample spans the mass range from 0.1 – 0.6 solar masses {temperature range 2200K – 4000K} where the UV energy distributions vary widely between active and inactive stars. The strength and distribution of this UV emission can have critical consequences for the atmospheres of attendant planets. Our proposed observations will provide desperately needed constraints on models of the habitability zone and the atmospheres of possible terrestrial planets orbiting M dwarf hosts, and will be used to sharpen TPF target selection. In addition, the NUV data will be used in conjunction with existing optical, FUV and X-ray data to constrain a new generation of M dwarf atmospheric models, and to explore unanswered questions regarding the dynamo generation and magnetic heating in these low-mass stars.

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/SBC 10502

ACS Imaging of the Uranus Aurora and Hydrogen Corona

ACS SBC UV observations of Uranus are proposed with dual purposes that can be achieved with a single set of observations. First, we propose to observe the very unusual auroral of Uranus for the first time since IUE and Voyager in the 1980’s. The Uranus aurora are centered on the magnetic poles, corresponding to the 60 deg. tilted magnetic moment, closer to the equator than the rotational poles. The brighter auroral emission appears around the weaker magnetic pole. The auroral emissions are highly variable, as recorded with IUE, and the rotational phase of Uranus is not known. The observations will therefore cover the extent of a Uranus rotation {17.29 hours}, and will be repeated one-half solar rotation later to allow for variations in the solar wind at Uranus. The high sensitivity of the ACS SBC at long wavelengths will increase the sensitivity to auroral H2 emissions, and observations in cycle 14 near solar minimum will limit the sky background and reflected solar emissions from the Uranus disc. Secondly, these images will measure the extended hydrogen corona of Uranus, first seen by the Voyager 2 UVS. We propose to model the distribution of the hydrogen corona to determine the source processes in the Uranus upper atmosphere, by comparison with model runs from an exospheric code.

ACS/WFC 10592

An ACS Survey of a Complete Sample of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe

At luminosities above 10^11.4 L_sun, the space density of far-infrared selected galaxies exceeds that of optically selected galaxies. These `luminous infrared galaxies’ {LIRGs} are primarily interacting or merging disk galaxies undergoing enhanced star formation and Active Galactic Nuclei {AGN} activity, possibly triggered as the objects transform into massive S0 and elliptical merger remnants. We propose ACS/WFC imaging of a complete sample of 88 L_IR > 10^11.4 L_sun luminous infrared galaxies in the IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample {RBGS: i.e., 60 micron flux density > 5.24 Jy}. This sample is ideal not only in its completeness and sample size, but also in the proximity and brightness of the galaxies. The superb sensitivity, resolution, and field of view of ACS/WFC on HST enables a unique opportunity to study the detailed structure of galaxies that sample all stages of the merger process. Imaging will be done with the F439W and F814W filters {B and I-band} to examine as a function of both luminosity and merger state {i} the evidence at optical wavelengths of star formation and AGN activity and the manner in which instabilities {bars and bridges} in the galaxies may funnel material to these active regions, {ii} the relationship between star formation and AGN activity, and {iii} the structural properties {AGN, bulge, and disk components} and fundamental parameters {effective radius and surface brightness} of LIRGs and their similarity with putative evolutionary byproducts {elliptical, S0 and classical AGN host galaxies}. This HST survey will also bridge the wavelength gap between a Spitzer imaging survey {covering seven bands in the 3.6-160 micron range} and a GALEX UV imaging survey of these galaxies, but will resolve complexes of star clusters and multiple nuclei at resolutions well beyond the capabilities of either Spitzer or GALEX. The combined datasets will result in the most comprehensive multiwavelength study of interacting and merging galaxies to date.


Probing Evolution And Reionization Spectroscopically {PEARS}

While imaging with HST has gone deep enough to probe the highest redshifts, e.g. the GOODS survey and the Ultra Deep Field, spectroscopic identifications have not kept up. We propose an ACS grism survey to get slitless spectra of all sources in a wide survey region {8 ACS fields} up to z =27.0 magnitude, and an ultradeep field in the HUDF reaching sources up to z =28 magnitude. The PEARS survey will: {1} Find and spectrocopically confirm all galaxies between z=4-7. {2} Probe the reionization epoch by robustly determining the luminosity function of galaxies and low luminosity AGNs at z = 4 – 6. With known redshifts, we can get a local measure of star formation and ionization rate in case reionization is inhomogeneous. {3} Study galaxy formation and evolution by finding galaxies in a contiguous redshift range between 4 < z < 7, and black hole evolution through a census of low-luminosity AGNs. {4} Get a robust census of galaxies with old stellar populations at 1 < z < 2.5, invaluable for checking consistency with heirarchical models of galaxy formation. Fitting these galaxies' spectra will yield age and metallicity estimates. {5} Study star-formation and galaxy assembly at its peak at 1< z < 2 by identifying emission lines in star-forming galaxies, old populations showing the 4000A break, and any combination of the two. {6} Constrain faint white dwarfs in the Galactic halo and thus measure their contribution to the dark matter halo. {7} Derive spectro-photometric redshifts by using the grism spectra along with broadband data. This will be the deepest unbiased spectroscopy yet, and will enhance the value of the multiwavelength data in UDF and the GOODS fields to the astronomical community. To this end we will deliver reduced spectra to the HST archives.

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 10721

NICMOS dark current tests for newly implemented SPARS sequences

On June 12, 2005, 4 new NICMOS multiaccum sequences {SPARS4, SPARS16, SPARS32, SPARS128} were implemented. The purpose of this observation is to measure the dark currents for these new multiaccum sequences for all three NICMOS detectors.

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.

NIC3 10406

NICMOS Imaging of Massive Galaxies at z ~ 2

We propose NICMOS F160W imaging of a sample of massive red galaxies from the Gemini Deep Deep Survey. These galaxies dominate the stellar mass density at 1.5< z < 2 and are our best link to early galaxy formation. The NICMOS images will be used in conjunction with our ACS images and deep Gemini spectra to examine the formation and early evolution of massive ellpitcal galaxy progenitors. We waive all propretary rights to the data and wil make them available on our web site as we have done with the Gemini Deep Deep Survey spectra, catalogs and ACS images.

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 investigated.)

HSTARS: (None)



                         SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL 
 FGS Gsacq             10                       10 
 FGS Reacq              05                       05 
 FHST Update           17                       17 


SpaceRef staff editor.