Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3973

By SpaceRef Editor
October 25, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3973

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT October 24, 2005 (DOY 297)



ACS CCDs daily monitor

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 programme will be for the entire lifetime of ACS. Changes from cycle 13:- The default gain for WFC is 2 e-/DN. As before bias frames will be collected for both gain 1 and gain 2. Dark frames are acquired using the default gain {2}. This program cover the period Oct, 2 2005- May, 29-2006. The second half of the program has a different proposal number: 10758.

ACS/WFC 10500

Exploring the Bottom End of the White Dwarf Cooling Sequence in the Galactic Open Cluster NGC2158

The recent discovery by our group of an unexpectedly bright and still unexplained peak in the white dwarf {WD} luminosity function {LF} of the metal rich, old open cluster NGC6791 casts serious doubts on our understanding of the physical process which rules the formation and the cooling of WDs. In order to investigate whether the same problem is present in other open clusters with different ages and metallicities, we propose deep ACS/HST observations reaching the bottom end of the WD LFs, for the first time in a young and so popolous Galactic open cluster: NGC2158.

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.

ACS/WFC 10587

Measuring the Mass Dependence of Early-Type Galaxy Structure

We propose two-color ACS-WFC Snapshot observations of a sample of 118 candidate early- type gravitational lens galaxies. Our lens-candidate sample is selected to yield {in combination with earlier results} an approximately uniform final distribution of 40 early-type strong lenses across a wide range of masses, with velocity dispersions {a dynamical proxy for mass} ranging from 125 to 300 km/s. The proposed program will deliver the first significant sample of low-mass gravitational lenses. All of our candidates have known lens and source redshifts from Sloan Digital Sky Survey data, and all are bright enough to permit detailed photometric and stellar- dynamical observation. We will constrain the luminous and dark-matter mass profiles of confirmed lenses using lensed-image geometry and lens-galaxy structural/photometric measurements from HST imaging in combination with dynamical measurements from spatially resolved ground-based follow-up spectroscopy. Hence we will determine, in unprecedented detail, the dependence of early-type galaxy mass structure and mass-to-light ratio upon galaxy mass. These results will allow us to directly test theoretical predictions for halo concentration and star-formation efficiency as a function of mass and for the existence of a cuspy inner dark- matter component, and will illuminate the structural explanation behind the fundamental plane of early-type galaxies. The lens-candidate selection and confirmation strategy that we propose has been proven successful for high-mass galaxies by our Cycle 13 Snapshot program {10174}. The program that we propose here will produce a complementary and unprecedented lens sample spanning a wide range of lens-galaxy masses.

ACS/WFC 10618

The Light Echoes around V838 Monocerotis: MHD in 3 Dimensions, Circumstellar Mapping, and Dust

V838 Monocerotis, which burst upon the astronomical scene in early 2002, is a completely unanticipated new object. It underwent a large-amplitude and very luminous outburst, during which its spectrum remained that of an extremely cool supergiant. A rapidly evolving set of light echoes around V838 Mon was discovered soon after the outburst, and quickly became the most spectacular display of the phenomenon ever seen. The light echoes, which were imaged by us with HST during 2002, provide the means to accomplish four unique types of measurements based on continued HST imaging during the event: {1} Study effects of MHD turbulence at high resolution and in 3 dimensions; {2} Construct the first unambiguous and fully 3-D map of a circumstellar dust envelope in the Milky Way; {3} Study dust physics in a unique setting where the spectrum and light curve of the illumination, and the scattering angle, are unambiguously known; and {4} Determine the distance to V838 Mon through two independent direct geometric techniques {polarimetry and angular expansion rates}. Because of the extreme rarity of light echoes, this is almost certainly the only opportunity to achieve such results during the lifetime of HST. We propose a campaign during Cycle 14 of imaging the echoes every 8 days for a total of 6 epochs, in order to fully map a thin slab through the dust shell and achieve the other goals listed above.

ACS/WFC/NIC3 10632

Searching for galaxies at z>6.5 in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

We propose to obtain deep ACS {F606W, F775W, F850LP} imaging in the area of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field NICMOS parallel fields and – through simultaneous parallel observations – deep NICMOS {F110W, F160W} imaging of the ACS UDF area. Matching the extreme imaging depth in the optical and near-IR bands will result in seven fields with sufficiently sensitive multiband data to detect the expected typical galaxies at z=7 and 8. Presently no such a field exist. Our combined optical and near-IR ultradeep fields will be in three areas separated by about 20 comoving Mpc at z=7. This will allow us to give a first assessment of the degree of cosmic variance. If reionization is a process extending over a large redshift interval and the luminosity function doesn’t evolve strongly beyond z=6, these data will allow us to identify of the order of a dozen galaxies at 6.56.5. Conversely, finding fewer objects would be an indication that the bulk of reionization is done by galaxies at z=6. By spending 204 orbits of prime HST time we will capitalize on the investment of 544 prime orbits already made on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field {UDF}. We have verified that the program as proposed is schedulable and that it will remain so even if forced to execute in the 2-gyro mode. The data will be non-proprietary and the reduced images will be made public within 2 months from the completion of the observations.

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.

WFPC2 10359

WFPC2 CYCLE 13 Standard Darks

This dark calibration program obtains dark frames every week in order to provide data for the ongoing calibration of the CCD dark current rate, and to monitor and characterize the evolution of hot pixels. Over an extended period these data will also provide a monitor of radiation damage to the CCDs.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                          SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
Gsacq                05                     05 

FGS Reacq                09                     09
OBAD with Maneuver   28                     28


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