Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3988

By SpaceRef Editor
November 15, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3988

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT November 14, 2005 (DOY 318)


ACS/HRC 10488

The Most Massive Galaxies in the Universe: Color-Gradients and Texture

We are proposing an HST snapshot survey of 40 objects with velocity dispersion larger than 350 km/s, selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and confirmed to be single massive galaxies by the ACS-HRC i-band imaging obtained during Cycle 13. This sample of the most massive galaxies in the Universe is interesting because these objects potentially harbor the most massive black holes, and because their existence places strong constraints on galaxy formation models. These objects are unusual for another reason than their abnormally large velocity dispersions: they appear to be bluer than expected from extrapolation of the color-velocity dispersion relation of normal early-types to these large velocity dispersions. The bluer than expected colors indicate that the formation histories of these objects are likely to be rather different than for normal early-types. This difference is also expected to manifest as abnormal color-gradients. ACS-HRC imaging in one other band {i.e. the g-band} will allow us not simply to analyze color gradients in these objects but also to study their color texture and topology. This study will provide important information about the formation history of galaxies.

ACS/HRC 10556

Neutral Gas at Redshift z=0.5

Damped Lyman-alpha systems {DLAs} are used to track the bulk of the neutral hydrogen gas in the Universe. Prior to HST UV spectroscopy, they could only be studied from the ground at redshifts z>1.65. However, HST has now permitted us to discover 41 DLAs at z<1.65 in our previous surveys. Followup studies of these systems are providing a wealth of information about the evolution of the neutral gas phase component of the Universe. But one problem is that these 41 low-redshift systems are spread over a wide range of redshifts spanning nearly 70% of the age of the Universe. Consequently, past surveys for low-redshift DLAs have not been able to offer very good precision in any small redshift regime. Here we propose an ACS-HRC- PR200L spectroscopic survey in the redshift interval z=[0.37, 0.7] which we estimate will permit us to discover another 41 DLAs. This will not only allow us to double the number of low-redshift DLAs, but it will also provide a relatively high-precision regime in the low-redshift Universe that can be used to anchor evolutionary studies. Fortunately DLAs have high absorption equivalent width, so ACS-HRC-PR200L has high-enough resoultion to perform this proposed MgII-selected DLA survey.


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 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 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.

FGS 10432

Precise Distances to Nearby Planetary Nebulae

We propose to carry out astrometry with the FGS to obtain accurate and precise distances to four nearby planetary nebulae. In 1992, Cahn et al. noted that “The distances to Galactic planetary nebulae remain a serious, if not THE most serious, problem in the field, despite decades of study.” Twelve years later, the same statement still applies. Because the distances to planetary nebulae are so uncertain, our understanding of their masses, luminosities, scale height, birth rate, and evolutionary state is severely limited. To help remedy this problem, HST astrometry can guarantee parallaxes with half the error of any other available approach. These data, when combined with parallax measurements from the USNO, will improve distance measurements by more than a factor of two, producing more accurate distances with uncertainties that are of the order of ~6%. Lastly, most planetary nebula distance scales in the literature are statistical. They require several anchor points of known distance in order to calibrate their zero point. Our program will provide “gold standard” anchor points by the end of 2006, a decade before any anticipated results from future space astrometry missions.

NIC1 10725

Photometric Stability

This NICMOS calibration proposal carries out photometric monitoring observations during Cycle 14. The format of the program is similar to that of the Cycle 12 program 9995 and Cycle 13 program 10381, but a few modifications were made. Provisions had to be made to adopt to 2- gyro mode {G191B2B was added as extra target to provide target visibility through most of the year}. Where before 4 or 7 dithers were made in a filter before we moved to the next filter, now we observe all filters at one position before moving to the next dither position. While the previous method was chosen to minimize the effect of persistence, we now realize that persistence is connected to charge trapping and by moving through the filter such that the count rate increases, we reach equilibrium more quickly between charge being trapped and released. We have also increased exposure times where possible to reduce the charge trapping non-linearity effects.


NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 1.

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.

WFPC2 10744

WFPC2 Cycle 14 Decontaminations and Associated Observations

This proposal is for the WFPC2 decons. Also included are instrument monitors tied to decons: photometric stability check, focus monitor, pre- and post-decon internals {bias, intflats, kspots, & darks}, UV throughput check, VISFLAT sweep, and internal UV flat check.


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                04                       04
OBAD with Maneuver   26                       26


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