Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3937

By SpaceRef Editor
September 2, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3937

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        # 3937

PERIOD COVERED: UT September 01, 2005 (DOY 244)


ACS/HRC 10547

A SNAP Program to Obtain Complete Wavelength Coverage of Interstellar Extinction

We propose a SNAP program to obtain ACS/HRC spectra in the near-UV {PR200L} and near-IR {G800L} for a set of main sequence B stars with available IUE UV spectrophotometry, optical photometry, and 2MASS IR photometry. Together with these existing data, the new observations will provide complete photometric and spectrophotometric coverage from 1150 to 11000 A and enable us to produce complete extinction curves from the far-UV to the near-IR, with well- determined values of R{V}. The proposed set of 50 program sight lines includes the full range of interstellar extinction curve types and a wide range of color excesses. The new data will allow us to examine variability in the near-UV through near-IR spectral regions, including the UV-optical “knee” and the “Very Broad Structure.” We will examine the response of these features to different interstellar environments and their relationship to other curve features. These are largely unexplored aspects of extinction curves which will provide additional constraints on the properties of interstellar grains. The curves will be derived using stellar atmosphere models to represent the intrinsic spectral energy distributions of the program stars, eliminating the need to observe unreddened “standard stars.” This approach virtually eliminates “mismatch error”, allowing us to derive extinction curves with much higher precision than previously possible. In addition, the new spectra will provide higher S/N data for the peak of the 2175 A bump than previously available.


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/SBC 9806

Properties of the Intergalactic Medium near the Epoch of HeII Reionization

Our STIS spectral snapshot programs have found a rare case of a He-II Lyman-alpha absorption trough in a z=3.51, V=17.6 quasar. This is the highest redshift at which this feature has been observed. We propose to obtain a high-quality STIS spectrum that will enable us to {1} Investigate the evolution and properties of the intergalactic medium {IGM} over an epoch between z=2.8 and 3.5; {2} Search for signs of the reionization of the intergalactic helium; {3} Measure the intensity of the UV background radiation, and find clues toward its origin; and {4} Estimate the IGM baryonic density. The instrument has been changed from STIS to ASC prism.

ACS/WFC 10523

The Halo Shape and Metallicity of Massive Spiral Galaxies

We propose to resolve the stellar populations of the halos of seven nearby, massive disk galaxies using a SNAP survey with WFC/ACS. These observations will provide star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 2-3 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch along the two principal axes and one intermediate axis of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~31 V-mag per square arcsec. This proposal will create a unique sampling of galaxy halo properties, as our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, inclination, and morphology. As function of these galaxy properties this survey will provide:- the first systematic measurement of radial light profiles and axial ratios of the diffuse stellar halos and outer disks of spiral galaxies- a comprehensive analysis of halo metallicity distributions as function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy- an unprecedented study of the stellar metallicity and age distribution in the outer disk regions where the disk truncations occur- the first comparative study of globular clusters and their field stellar populations We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process to test halo formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme.

ACS/WFC 10550

The Nature of LSB galaxies revealed by their Globular Clusters

Low Surface Brightness {LSB} galaxies encompass many of the extremes in galaxy properties. Their understanding is essential to complete our picture of galaxy formation and evolution. Due to their historical under-representation on galaxy surveys, their importance to many areas of astronomy has only recently began to be realized. Globular clusters are superb tracers of the formation histories of galaxies and have been extensively used as such in high surface brightness galaxies. We propose to investigate the nature of massive LSB galaxies by studying their globular cluster systems. No globular cluster study has been reported for LSB galaxies to date. Yet, both the presence or absence of globular clusters set very strong constraints on the conditions prevailing during LSB galaxy formation and evolution. Both in dwarf and giant high surface brightness {HSB} galaxies, globular clusters are known to form as a constant fraction of baryonic mass. Their presence/absence immediately indicates similarities or discrepancies in the formation and evolution conditions of LSB and HSB galaxies. In particular, the presence/absence of metal-poor halo globular clusters infers similarities/differences in the halo formation and assembly processes of LSB vs. HSB galaxies, while the presence/absence of metal-rich globular clusters can be used to derive the occurrence and frequency of violent events {such as mergers} in the LSB galaxy assembly history. Two band imaging with ACS will allow us to identify the globular clusters {just resolved at the selected distance} and to determine their metallicity {potentially their rough age}. The composition of the systems will be compared to the extensive census built up on HSB galaxies. Our representative sample of six LSB galaxies {cz < 2700 km/s} are selected such, that a large system of globular clusters is expected. Globular clusters will constrain phases of LSB galaxy formation and evolution that can currently not be probed by other means. HST/ACS imaging is the only facility capable of studying the globular cluster systems of LSB galaxies given their distance and relative scarcity.

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.


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


9933 – GSAcq (1,2,2) resulted in fine lock backup (1,0,1) on FGS-1 @ 245/0413z Previous OBAD #1 results: -212.74, -488.23, 534.56, 754.57.   Previous OBAD #2 results: 1.87, -9.93, 1.48, 10.22.


17532-3 – Power off Gyro 4 after TGS Transition @ 244/2248z


                             SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL 
 FGS Gsacq                 10                       10 
 FGS Reacq                   4                        4 
 OBAD with Maneuver    28                       28 

FAD from OBAD with No Maneuver – 8


Flash Report for Gyro 4 Power Off  – September 1, 2005

Gyro 4 was turned off. Operations Request 17532-3 was executed at 244/22:47 with the gyro power off command sent at 22:47:29.

SpaceRef staff editor.