Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3940

By SpaceRef Editor
September 9, 2005
Filed under , ,

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT September 07, 2005 (DOY 250)


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 CCDs daily monitor – Cycle 13 – Part 2

This program consists of a set of basic tests to monitor, the read noise, the development of hot pixels and test for any source of noise in ACS CCD detectors. The files, biases and dark will be used to create reference files for science calibration. This program will be for the entire lifetime of ACS.

ACS/WFC 10497

Cepheid Calibrations of the Luminosity of Two Reliable Type Ia Supernovae and a Re- determination of the Hubble Constant

We propose to determine the luminosity of two type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia}, 1995al in NGC 3021 and SN 2002fk in NGC 1309, by observing Cepheids in their spiral hosts. Modern CCD photometry yields an extremely tight Hubble diagram for SNe Ia with a precisely determined intercept {i.e., Delta H_0/H_0}. Yet, the measurement of the true Hubble constant via SNe Ia is limited by the calibration derived from problematic and unreliable SN data. Most of the SNe Ia calibrated by HST to date are significantly compromised by the systematics of photographic photometry, high reddening and SN peculiarity, and by the photometric anomolies associated with WFPC2. The extended reach of ACS now provides opportunities to more reliably calibrate SNe Ia and H_0. Our Cepheid calibration of a reliable SN Ia dataset, SN 1994ae, using ACS in Cycle 11 resulted in a 15% increase in H_0 from the value derived by the HST SN Ia Calibration Program. Yet, there remains a terribly small sample of reliable SN Ia data sets on which to base such a crucial cosmological result. SN 1995al and SN 2002fk are two of the best observed SNe Ia both with little reddening. They provide two opportunities to use ACS for placing the calibration of H_0 via SN Ia on firmer footing and potentially improve its precision.

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 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.


What Are Stalled Preplanetary Nebulae? An ACS SNAPshot Survey

Essentially all planetary nebulae {PNs} are aspherical, whereas the mass-loss envelopes of AGB stars are strikingly spherical. Our previous SNAPshot surveys of a morphologically unbiased sample of pre-planetary nebulae {PPNs} — objects in transition between the AGB and PN evolutionary phases — show that roughly half our observed targets are resolved, with bipolar or multipolar morphologies. Spectroscopic observations of our sample confirm that these objects have not yet evolved into planetary nebulae. Thus, the transformation from spherical to aspherical geometries has already fully developed by the time these dying stars have become PPNs. Although our current studies have yielded exciting results, they are limited in two important ways — {1} the number of well-resolved objects is still small {18}, and the variety of morphologies observed relatively multitudinous, hence no clear trends can yet be established between morphology and other source properties {e.g., near-IR, far-IR colors, stellar spectral type, envelope mass}, and {2} the current samples are strongly biased towards small PPNs, as inferred from their low 60-to-25 micron flux ratios [R{60/25}<1]. However, the prototype of objects with R{60/25}>1, the Frosty Leo Nebula, has a puzzlingly large post-AGB age {almost 10^4 yr} and a fairly cool central star, very different from the expectations of single-star stellar evolutionary models. A proposed, but still speculative, hypothesis for such objects is that the slow evolution of the central star is due to backflow of material onto the mass-losing star, retarding its evolution towards the PN phase. This hypothesis has significant consequences for both stellar and nebular evolution. We therefore propose a survey of PPNs with R{60/25}>1 which is heavily weighted towards the discovery of such “stalled PPNs”. Supporting kinematic observations using long-slit optical spectroscopy {with the Keck}, millimeter and radio interferometric observations {with OVRO, VLA & VLBA} are being undertaken. The results from this survey {together with our previous work} will allow us to draw general conclusions about the complex mass-outflow processes affecting late stellar evolution, and will provide crucial input for theories of post-AGB stellar evolution. Our survey will produce an archival legacy of long-standing value for future studies of dying stars.


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.

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.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                                 SCHEDULED     SUCCESSFUL
FGS Gsacq                       11                     11
FGS Reacq                        4                       4
OBAD with Maneuver          29                     29


SpaceRef staff editor.