Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3941

By SpaceRef Editor
September 9, 2005
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT       # 3941

PERIOD COVERED: UT September 08, 2005 (DOY 251)



CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

Hot pixel annealing will continue to be performed once every 4 weeks. The CCD TECs will be turned off and heaters will be activated to bring the detector temperatures to about +20C. This state will be held for approximately 12 hours, after which the heaters are turned off, the TECs turned on, and the CCDs returned to normal operating condition. To assess the effectiveness of the annealing, a bias and four dark images will be taken before and after the annealing procedure for both WFC and HRC. The HRC darks are taken in parallel with the WFC darks. The charge transfer efficiency {CTE} of the ACS CCD detectors declines as damage due to on-orbit radiation exposure accumulates. This degradation has been closely monitored at regular intervals, because it is likely to determine the useful lifetime of the CCDs. We will now combine the annealling activity with the charge transfer efficiency monitoring and also merge into the routine dark image collection. To this end, the CTE monitoring exposures have been moved into this proposal . All the data for this program is acquired using internal targets {lamps} only, so all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time {but not during SAA passages}. This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post-launch SMOV testing {program 8948}, so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. Extended Pixel Edge Response {EPER} and First Pixel Response {FPR} data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for both the Wide Field Channel {WFC}, and the High Resolution Channel {HRC}.


Near-UV Snapshot Survey of Low Luminosity AGNs

Low-luminosity active galactic nuclei {LLAGNs} comprise ~30% of all bright galaxies {B<12.5} and are the most common type of AGN. These include low-luminosity Seyfert galaxies, LINERs, and transition-type objects {TOs, also called weak-[OI] LINERs}. What powers them is still at the forefront of AGN research. To unveil the nature of the central source we propose a near-UV snapshot survey of 50 nearby LLAGNs using ACS/HRC and the filter {F330W}, a configuration which is optimal to detect faint star forming regions around their nuclei. These images will complement optical and near-IR images available in the HST archive, providing a panchromatic atlas of the inner regions of these galaxies, which will be used to study their nuclear stellar population. Our main goals are to: 1} Investigate the presence of nuclear unresolved sources that can be attributed to an AGN; 2} Determine the frequency of nuclear and circumnuclear stellar clusters, and whether they are more common in Transition Objects {TOs} than in LINERs; 3} Characterize the sizes, colors, luminosities, masses and ages of these clusters; 4} Derive the luminosity function of star clusters and study their evaporation over time in the vicinity of AGNs. Finally, the results of this project will be combined with those of a previous similar one for Seyfert galaxies in order to compare the nature of the nuclear sources and investigate if there could be an evolution from Seyferts to TOs and LINERs. By adding UV images to the existing optical and near-IR ones, this project will also create an extremely valuable database for astronomers with a broad range of scientific interests.

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.

ACS/WFC 10634

White Dwarf Cooling Physics: Calibrating the Clock

We know approximate ages for the Galactic disk from white dwarf cooling theory applied to local white dwarfs and for the Galactic halo from main sequence stellar evolutionary theory applied to star clusters. However, the two chronometers are not cross-calibrated to the same absolute scale; our observations will perform this cross-calibration and improve the precision of both chronometers. We propose to use HST/ACS photometry of white dwarfs in five moderately old open cluster {0.6-2.2 Gyr}, along with all available up-to-date white dwarf interior and atmosphere models and a powerful new statistical approach, to compare main sequence evolutionary theory and white dwarf cooling theory. This comparison will be done in such a manner as to test white dwarf crystallization and carbon/oxygen phase separation, as well as main sequence models in the range where they are sensitive to the degree of core overshooting and where PP burning transitions to CNO burning. This confrontation is essential before we can accurately and precisely apply white dwarf cosmochronometry to the disk and halo field populations and to globular clusters. Past support by HST for white dwarf ages in globular clusters {123 orbits for M4 and a similarly large scheduled campaign for NGC 6397} will only be fully levereged by ensuring that both stellar chronometers are calibrated to the same age scale. Only then can white dwarf chronometers live up to their potential as fundamental, independent, and new age estimators for the Galaxy.


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 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                     2                       2 OBAD with Maneuver      21                    21 


SpaceRef staff editor.