Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3939

By SpaceRef Editor
September 7, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3939

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        # 3939

PERIOD COVERED: UT September 06, 2005 (DOY 249)


ACS/HRC 10606

Ultraviolet 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 ACS NUV images of 3CR sources with z<0.3 as a major enhancement to an already superb dataset. We aim to reveal dust in galaxies, regions of star and star cluster formation frequently associated with dust and establish the physical characteristics of the dust itself. We will measure frequency and spectral energy distributions of point-like nuclei, 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 for significant numbers of both FR-I and FR-II sources. The resulting database will be an incredibly valuable resource to the astronomical community for years to come.


Star Clusters and Stellar Populations in M81

We propose a quick imaging survey of the nearby luminous spiral galaxy M81with the ACS in F814W. After Andromeda, M81 is the nearest big intermediate type spiral galaxy and is thus a primary candidate for stellar population studies. At 3.8 Mpc, 1ACS WFC pixel is 1 pc. We will cover the inner part of the galaxy where confusion is the greatest problem in cluster studies, with 24 ACS fields. This survey will provide the sample and spatial information necessary to study the globular and open cluster systems of M81, spatial distribution, metallicity, object size distribution, the GCLF, etc., in exquisite detail especially when combined with our existing ground-based multicolor imaging and planned spectroscopy.

ACS/SBC 9806

Properties of the Intergalactic Medium near the Epoch of He-II 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 10526

Dynamics of the Polarization Structure of the Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is not a free expansion SNR. Rather, it is a pulsar wind nebula expanding from the inside out into a larger remnant of freely expanding ejecta. At the heart of this object is the Crab Pulsar and the region where the pulsar’s highly nonisotropic wind interacts with the larger synchtron nebula. HST and Chandra monitoring has shown this to be one of the most intricately structured and highly dynamical objects ever observed. In Cycle 12 we demonstrated our ability to use the polarization capabilities of the ACS to isolate physically discrete features within the Crab Synchrotron Nebula and accurately measure their polarization characteristics. These data provide a unique look at the physical structure in the heart of the Crab, adding a new dimension to past observations. Polarization provides extensive information about field geometries, the degree of disorder in the field, and particle pitch angle distributions. But one image of the Crab is like a single image of waves at the beach. It necessarily misses the point. In the Crab, the name of the game is “dynamics”. In this proposal we request time to monitor changes in the polarization structure of the Crab. This program will allow us to follow the changing polarization of features including relativistically moving wisps in the Crab Nebula. This is the only place in the sky where a dynamic relativistic plasma can be observed in sufficient detail to make such measurements possible, and the HST/ACS is the only instrument that we are likely to see in our careers capable of making the measurement. These observations will be an important addition to the already rich observational legacy of HST for what is arguably the most important single object in astrophysics.

ACS/WFC 10596

AGNs with Intermediate-mass Black Holes: A Test of the Black Hole-Bulge Paradigm

The recent progress in the study of central black holes in galactic nuclei has led to a general consensus that supermassive {10^6-10^9 solar mass} black holes are closely connected with the formation and evolutionary history of large galaxies, especially their bulge component. Two outstanding issues, however, remain unresolved. Can central black holes form in the absence of a bulge? And does the mass function of central black holes extend below 10^6 solar masses? Intermediate-mass black holes {10^4-10^6 solar masses}, if they exist, may offer important clues to the nature of the seeds of supermassive black holes. In a first systematic search using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we have recently discovered 19 Type 1 AGNs with candidate intermediate-mass black holes that reside in low-luminosity, presumably late-type host galaxies. Follow-up observations with Keck indicate that these objects obey the low-mass extension of the well-known correlation between black hole mass and bulge stellar velocity dispersion. However, very little is known about the host galaxies themselves, including the crucial question of whether they have bulges or not. We propose to obtain ACS/WFC images of this unique sample of AGNs in order to investigate the detailed structural properties of the host galaxies. We are particularly keen to determine whether the hosts contain bulges, and if so, where they lie on the fundamental plane of spheroids compared to the bulges of supermassive black holes. We will also be able to measure an accurate optical luminosity for the AGN, which is an essential ingredient to improve the current mass estimates.

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 10603

Multiwavelength Imaging of Edge-on Protoplanetary Disks: Quantifying the Growth of Circumstellar Dust

Young, edge-on circumstellar disks are uniquely valuable laboratories for the study of planet formation. In these objects, the central star is occulted from direct view, significant PSF artifacts are absent, and the disk is clearly seen as a central dust lane flanked by faint disk reflected light. The detailed morphology of these nebulae and its variation with wavelength provide crucial information on the disk internal structure and the properties of its constituent dust grains. A key observable is the slope defining the wavelength dependence of the dust scattering opacity, which becomes shallower when grain growth has taken place; multiwavelength resolved disk images are the key dataset enabling such measurements. Recent analyses of three different edge-on disks have revealed a diversity in their dust properties that is indicative of different degrees of dust grain evolution having taken place in each system. This characterization of disk grain growth, when applied comparatively to a larger sample of these objects, would enable the construction of an evolutionary sequence of young disks at successive stages on the road to planet formation. In pursuit of this goal, we have identified a sample of 15 edge-on disks previously discovered by HST or groundbased telescopes, but for which high fidelity, high spatial resolution images do not yet exist in both the optical and near-infrared. We propose broad-band multicolor imaging with NICMOS of all these targets, and ACS imaging of nine of these targets In combination with existing data, the proposed images will form a complete database of high resolution optical/near-IR images for these 15 disk systems. Scattered light modeling will be used to derive the disk structure and dust properties, yielding results that will be of fundamental importance for our understanding of grain properties during protoplanetary disk evolution.

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                    5                        5 
 OBAD with Maneuver     30                       30 


SpaceRef staff editor.