Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3995

By SpaceRef Editor
November 28, 2005
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3995

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT November 23,24,25,26,27, 2005 (DOY 327,328,329,330,331)



NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 2

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.


CTE and QE measurement for ACS CCDs at three different temperatures

The goal of this program is to characterize the variation in CTE and QE for the ACS/WFC and ACS/HRC CCDs when operated at temperatures colder and warmer than the current operational temperature. The range of temperature tested here should represent the coldest and warmest temperature at which the CCD can be operated after SM4 in the case the ASCS is installed or not installed {or installed and not connected to ACS}.

ACS/HRC 10738

Earth Flats

Sky flats will be obtained by observing the bright Earth with the HRC and WFC. These observations will be used to verify the accuracy of the flats currently in the pipeline and to monitor any changes. Weekly coronagraphic monitoring is required to assess the changing position of the spots.


CCD Stability Monitor

This program will verify that the low frequency flat fielding, the photometry, and the geometric distortion are stable in time and across the field of view of the CCD detectors. A moderately crowded stellar field in the cluster 47 Tuc is observed every three months with the HRC {at the cluster core} and WFC {6′ West of the cluster core} using the full suite of broad and narrow band imaging filters. The positions and magnitudes of objects will be used to monitor local and large scale variations in the plate scale and the sensitivity of the detectors and to derive an independent measure of the detector CTE. An additional orbit is required to compare WFC observations taken at gain 1 with those taken at the new default gain 2.


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 6 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 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}.


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.

NIC3 10702

The COSMOS 2-Degree ACS Survey NICMOS Parallels

The COSMOS 2-Degree ACS Survey NICMOS Parallels. This program is a companion to program 10092.

ACS/WFC 10626

A Snapshot Survey of Brightest Cluster Galaxies and Strong Lensing to z = 0.9

We propose an ACS/WFC snapshot survey of the cores of 150 rich galaxy clusters at 0.3 < z < 0.9 from the Red Sequence Cluster Survey {RCS}. An examination of the galaxian light in the brightest cluster galaxies, coupled with a statistical analysis of the strong-lensing properties of the sample, will allow us to contrain the evolution of both the baryonic and dark mass in cluster cores, over an unprecedented redshift range and sample size. In detail, we will use the high- resolution ACS images to measure the metric {10 kpc/h} luminosity and morphological disturbances around the brightest clusters galaxies, in order to calibrate their accretion history in comparison to recent detailed simulations of structure formation in cluster cores. These images will also yield a well-defined sample of arcs formed by strong lensing by these clusters; the frequency and detailed distribution {size, multiplicity, redshifts} of these strong lens systems sets strong constraints on the total mass content {and its structure} in the centers of the clusters. These data will also be invaluable in the study of the morphological evolution and properties of cluster galaxies over a significant redshift range. These analyses will be supported by extensive ongoing optical and near-infrared imaging, and optical spectroscopy at Magellan, VLT and Gemini telescopes, as well as host of smaller facilities.

FGS 10613

Calibrating the Mass-Luminosity Relation at the End of the Main Sequence

We propose to use HST-FGS1R to calibrate the mass-luminosity relation {MLR} for stars less massive than 0.2 Msun, with special emphasis on objects near the stellar/brown dwarf border. Our goals are to determine M_V values to 0.05 magnitude, masses to 5 than double the number of objects with masses determined to be less than 0.20 Msun. This program uses the combination of HST-FGS3/FGS1R at optical wavelengths and ground-based infrared interferometry to examine nearby, subarcsecond binary systems. The high precision measurements with HST-FGS3/FGS1R {to 1 mas in the separations} for these faint targets {V = 10–15} simply cannot be equaled by any ground based technique. As a result of these measurements, we are deriving high quality luminosities and masses for the components in the observed systems, and characterizing their spectral energy distributions from 0.5 to 2.2 Mum. Several of the objects included have M < 0.1 Msun, placing them at the very end of the stellar main sequence. Three of the targets are brown dwarf candidates, including the current low mass record holder, GJ 1245C, with a mass of 0.062 +/- 0.004 Msun. The payoff of this proposal is high because all 10 of the systems selected have already been resolved with HST- FGS3/FGS1R during Cycles 5--10 and contain most of the reddest objects for which masses can be determined.

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.

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.

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 10576

An ACS Imaging Survey of the Galaxies Hosting Strong Mg II Absorption

Strong MgII absorbers {with rest-frame absorption equivalent width W_MgII > 0.3 A} at redshift z < 1 are known to arise in extended gaseous halos around luminous galaxies. Detailed absorption line studies based on high-solution spectra of background quasars yield tight constraints on the metallicity, ionization state, and kinematics of the gaseous clouds. But whether they originate in gas accreted from surrounding satellite galaxies or outflows associated with active starburst in the host galaxies remains unclear. We have recently completed a search of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data archive for strong MgII absorbers and identified over 1000 new systems that are previously unknown. A subset of these MgII absorbers with W_MgII > 1.8 A exhibit extreme kinematics with velocity widths {exceeding 200 km/s} in our follow-up echelle spectra. Their dynamics are consistent with various scenarios that include gas accretion {with speeds exceeding the virial velocity} and starburst outflows {possibly driven by recent merger events}. Independent of their exact nature, it is clear that strong MgII systems serve as signposts to galactic halos with extreme gas dynamics. Here we propose to conduct a snapshot survey of galaxies in the fields toward high-redshift quasars with known, strong MgII absorbers at 0.5 < z < 2. We plan to obtain high spatial-resolution ACS/WFC images of 60 fields to uncover galaxies fainter than L* at the redshifts of these absorbers and study their morphology. We will complement the HST observations with follow-up spectroscopic observations and IR images acquired at the Keck and Magellan Observatories to for redshift identifications and for measuring broad-band colors. We will investigate the correlation between absorption line kinematics and galaxy morphology. In particular, we will address whether on-going mergers is responsible for the extreme dynamics observed in MgII absorption based on their rest-frame ultraviolet morphology.

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.


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/NIC3 10541

Probing the jet mattter content of quasar PKS 0637-752

The matter content {electron-proton vs electron-positron composition} of extragalactic jets remains unknown, despite over three decades of work. Here, we propose NICMOS/NIC3 and ACS observations of the Chandra-detected, one sided jet of the superluminal quasar PKS 0637- 752 to derive the jet matter content by measuring the component of the Cosmic Microwave Background {CMB} radiation that is bulk-Comptonized {BC} by the cold electrons in the relativistically flowing large scale jet. What makes this source particularly suited for this procedure, is the absence of significant non-thermal jet emission from the ‘bridge’, the region between the core and the first bright knot WK7.8, guaranteeing that most of the electrons in the bridge are cold, leaving the BC scattered CMB radiation as the only significant source of photons in this region. The proposed NICMOS and ACS observations of the knot WK7.8 will provide spectral information in the IR-UV regime, which, together with existing multiwavelength data, will be used to derive the jet Doppler factor and minimum power necessary to power the knot emission as a function of the jet matter content. These will in turn be used to deduce, or strongly constrain, the actual jet matter content through comparison with the proposed NICMOS observations of the BC ‘bridge’ emission.

NIC2 10540

Imaging Nearby Dusty Disks

Images of circumstellar debris disks around young stars display complex structures that suggest they harbor forming planets. Disks around stars of nearly the same age and mass show dramatically different morphologies including rings with brightness asymmetries and multiple warps. The reasons for this heterogeneity are not understood, nor given the small sample of imaged disks, can we be sure we have yet observed all possible outcomes of the planet formation process. Disk imaging programs have demonstrated that the Hubble Space Telescope is the only excellent platform for the high-contrast detection of scattered light disks in the presence of their bright parent stars. Therefore, we propose a NICMOS imaging survey of the nearest, youngest, stars to Earth with substantial disks known from infrared excess emission.

ACS/HRC 10539

Coronagraphic Imaging of Bright New Spitzer Debris Disks

Fifteen percent of bright main sequence stars possess dusty circumstellar debris disks revealed by far-infrared photometry. These disks are signposts of planetary systems: collisions among larger, unseen parent bodies maintain the observed dust population against losses to radiation pressure and P-R drag. Images of debris disks at optical, infrared, and millimeter wavelengths have shown central holes, rings, radial gaps, warps, and azimuthal asymmetries which indicate the presence of planetary mass perturbers. Such images provide unique insights into the structure and dynamics of exoplanetary systems. Relatively few debris disks have been spatially resolved. Only nine have ever been resolved at any wavelength, and at wavelengths < 10 microns {where subarcsec resolution is available}, only seven: beta Pictoris, HR 4796, HD 141569, AU Mic, HD 107146, HD 92945, and Fomalhaut. Imaging of many other debris disk targets has been attempted with various HST cameras/coronagraphs and adaptive optics, but without success. The key property which renders a debris disk observable in scattered light is its dust optical depth. The seven disks imaged so far all have a dust excess luminosity >~ 0.01% that of the central star; no disks with smaller optical depths have been detected. Most main sequence stars known to meet this requirement have already been observed, so future progress in debris disk imaging depends on discovering additional stars with large infrared excess. The Spitzer Space Telescope offers the best opportunity in 20 years to identify new examples of high optical depth debris disk systems. We propose ACS coronagraphic imaging of nine bright, new debris disks uncovered during the first year of the Spitzer mission. Our goal is to obtain the first resolved images of these disks at ~3 AU resolution, define the disk sizes and orientations, and uncover disk substructures indicative of planetary perturbations. The results should double the number of debris disks observed at 0.06″ resolution, and open a wider window into the structure of planetary systems.

NIC2 10527

Imaging Scattered Light from Debris Disks Discovered by the Spitzer Space Telescope Around 20 Sun-like Stars

We propose to use the high contrast capability of the NICMOS coronagraph to image a sample of newly discovered circumstellar disks associated with sun-like stars. These systems were identified by their strong thermal infrared emission with the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of the Spitzer Legacy Science program titled, “The Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems {FEPS}.” Modelling of the thermal excess emission in the form of spectral energy distributions alone cannot distinguish between narrowly confined high opacity disks and broadly distributed, low opacity disks. However, our proposed NICMOS observations can, by imaging the light scattered from this material. Even non- detections will place severe constraints on the disk geometry, ruling out models with high optical depth. Unlike previous disk imaging programs, our program contains a well defined sample of solar mass stars covering a range of ages from ~10Myrs to a few Gyrs, allowing us to study the evolution of disks from primordial to debris for the first time. These results will greatly improve our understanding of debris disks around Sun- like stars at stellar ages nearly 10x older than any previous investigation. Thus we will have fit a crucial piece into the puzzle concerning the formation and evolution of our own solar system.

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/HRC 10525

Characterizing the Near-UV Environment of M Dwarfs: Implications for Extrasolar Planetary Searches and Astrobiology

We propose SNAP observations with the ACS HRC PR200L prism, designed to measure the near ultraviolet emission in a sample of 107 nearby M dwarfs. The sample spans the mass range from 0.1 – 0.6 solar masses {temperature range 2200K – 4000K} where the UV energy distributions vary widely between active and inactive stars. The strength and distribution of this UV emission can have critical consequences for the atmospheres of attendant planets. Our proposed observations will provide desperately needed constraints on models of the habitability zone and the atmospheres of possible terrestrial planets orbiting M dwarf hosts, and will be used to sharpen TPF target selection. In addition, the NUV data will be used in conjunction with existing optical, FUV and X-ray data to constrain a new generation of M dwarf atmospheric models, and to explore unanswered questions regarding the dynamo generation and magnetic heating in these low-mass stars.

ACS/WFC 10524

Blue Stragglers: a key stellar population to probe internal cluster dynamics

This proposal is part of a coordinated project devoted to understand the interplay of globular cluster {GC} dynamics and the formation and evolution of blue straggler stars {BSS}. By using a combination of HST and ground-based observations we are constructing complete BSS surveys in a sample of GCs; complete BSS surveys require mid-UV HST observations in the center and wide field CCD ground based observations under excellent seeing conditions of the exterior. Up to now only four clusters have been surveyed in this way and the results are surprising: in three GCs {M3, 47 Tuc, NGC 6752} we have discovered that the BSS radial distribution is bimodal, highly peaked in the cluster center, rapidly decreasing at intermediate radii and rising again at large radii {Ferraro et al. 1997, 2004, Sabbi et al. 2004}, conversely BSS population in Omega Centauri does not show any signature of the segregation which would be expected for a class of objects arising from either stellar interactions or binarity {Ferraro et al. 2005}. These observational facts are opening a new prospective in the study of the formation processes and evolution of BSS in GCs. By using extensive simulations, we demonstrated that the spatial distribution of BSS observed in 47 Tuc can be only reproduced if a sizable fraction of BSS is generated {via mass transfer in primordial binaries} in the peripheral region of the cluster {Mapelli et al 2004}, thus excluding a purely collisional formation scenario. Here we propose mid-UV imaging of a few clusters suspected of harboring a large population of central BSS and a few known to have many BSS the external region. These are good candidates for determining accurate BSS radial distributions. The modest amount of time proposed here will go far to determine the ubiquity of BSS bimodality and to constrain models of dynamical evolution. Since we believe the proposed observations would be useful to the entire stellar community {for multifold purposes} we waive the propretary period.


Kuiper Belt Binaries: Probes of Early Solar System Evolution

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt are a scientific windfall: in them we have relatively fragile test particles which can be used as tracers of the early dynamical evolution of the outer Solar System. We propose a Snapshot program using the ACS/HRC that has a potential discovery efficiency an order of magnitude higher than the HST observations that have already discovered the majority of known transneptunian binaries. By more than doubling the number of observed objects in dynamically hot and cold subpopulations we will be able to answer, with statistical significance, the question of whether these groups differ in the abundance of binaries as a result of their particular dynamical paths into the Kuiper Belt. Today’s Kuiper Belt bears the imprints of the final stages of giant-planet building and migration; binaries may offer some of the best preserved evidence of that long-ago era.

ACS/WFC 10505

The Onset of Star Formation in the Universe: Constraints from Nearby Isolated Dwarf Galaxies.

The details of the early star formation histories of tiny dwarf galaxies can shed light on the role in galaxy formation of the reionization which occured at high redshift. Isolated dwarfs are ideal probes since their evolution is not complicated by environmental effects owing to the vicinity of the Milky Way and M31. In addition, dwarf galaxies are the most common type of galaxies, and potentially the building blocks of larger galaxies. Since we can date the oldest stars in them, their study represents a complementary approach to the study of the formation and evolution of galaxies through high-z observations. We propose to use the ACS to obtain a homogeneus dataset of high-quality photometry, down to the old {13 Gyr} main-sequence turnoffs, for a representative sample of 4 isolated Local Group dwarf galaxies. These data are essential to unambiguously determine their early star formation histories, through comparison with synthetic color-magnitude diagrams, and using the constraints provided by their variable stars. Parallel WFPC2 observations of their halos will allow us to reveal the actual nature of their stellar population gradients, providing important aditional constraints on their evolution. The proposed observations are being complemented with ground-based spectroscopy, to obtain metallicity and kinematic information. The observations requested here, which must reach M_I=+3.5 {I=27.5- 28.2} with S/N=10 in crowded systems, can only be achieved with HST using ACS, and won’t be possible with planned ground- or space-based facilities such as JWST. Based on deep WFPC2 observations and ACS image simulations, our team has designed an observational strategy which carefully considers the optimal filter combination, the necessary photometry depth and the effects of stellar crowding.

ACS/WFC 10496

Decelerating and Dustfree: Efficient Dark Energy Studies with Supernovae and Clusters

We propose a novel HST approach to obtain a dramatically more useful “dust free” Type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia} dataset than available with the previous GOODS searches. Moreover, this approach provides a strikingly more efficient search-and-follow-up that is primarily pre- scheduled. The resulting dark energy measurements do not share the major systematic uncertainty at these redshifts, that of the extinction correction with a prior. By targeting massive galaxy clusters at z > 1 we obtain a five-times higher efficiency in detection of Type Ia supernovae in ellipticals, providing a well-understood host galaxy environment. These same deep cluster images then also yield fundamental calibrations required for future weak lensing and Sunyaev-Zel’dovich measurements of dark energy, as well as an entire program of cluster studies. The data will make possible a factor of two improvement on supernova constraints on dark energy time variation, and much larger improvement in systematic uncertainty. They will provide both a cluster dataset and a SN Ia dataset that will be a longstanding scientific resource.

WFPC2 10481

HST Observations of Astrophysically Important Visual Binaries

This is a continuation of a project begun in Cycle 7 and continued up through Cycle 11. The program consists of annual or biannual WFPC2 or FGS observations of three visual binary stars that will ultimately yield fundamental astrophysical results, once their orbits and masses are determined. Our targets are the following: {1} Procyon {P = 41 yr}, for which our first WFPC2 images yielded an extremely accurate angular separation of the bright F star and its much fainter white-dwarf companion. Combined with ground-based astrometry of the bright star, our observation significantly revised downward the derived masses, and brought Procyon A into excellent agreement with theoretical evolutionary tracks for the first time. With the continued monitoring proposed here, we will obtain masses to an accuracy of better than 1%, providing a testbed for theories of both Sun-like stars and white dwarfs. {2} G 107-70, a close double white dwarf {P = 19 yr} that promises to add two accurate masses to the tiny handful of white-dwarf masses that are directly known from dynamical measurements. {3} Mu Cas {P = 21 yr}, a famous metal-deficient G dwarf for which accurate masses will lead to the stars’ helium contents, with cosmological implications.

ACS/HRC 10435

Merger-Induced Populations in Early-Type Galaxy Cores

Hierarchical formation models predict that early-type galaxies are built up over an extended period from mergers of smaller systems, a process which should leave long-lived signatures in their light profiles and stellar population colors. Merger events should have continued up to relatively recent times {the last 1-5 Gyr}, and many ellipticals and S0 bulges should therefore show evidence of multiple, discrete, intermediate-age populations. Although there is substantial observational support for a dissipational merger origin for some early-type galaxies, most do not exhibit the expected anomalies in either their light profiles or color distributions. However, existing searches {mainly in the V and I bands} have not probed very deeply. Here we propose high resolution, broad-band, near-ultraviolet {2500-3400 A} imaging of the cores of bright early- type galaxies. This is the most sensitive probe available for the detection of spatially-segregated, multiple population components with ages in the range 1-5 Gyr. Our sample consists of dust- and AGN-free systems with both normal and mildly anomalous central light profiles. There is very little existing information on the near-UV structure of early-type galaxies, and our program would effectively explore new terrain.

ACS/HRC 10396

Star Clusters, Stellar Populations, and the Evolution of the Small Magellanic Cloud

As the closest star forming dwarf galaxy, the SMC is the preferred location for detailed studies of this extremely common class of objects. We therefore propose to use the capabilities of ACS, which provide an improvement by an order of magnitude over what is possible with ground- based optical imaging surveys that are limited by confusion anddepth, to measure key stellar population parameters in the SMC from VI color-magnitude diagrams. Our program focuses on regions where crowding makes HST essential and includes 7 star clusters and 7 field star locations. We will measure accurate ages of the clusters, test stellar evolution models, gain fiducial stellar sequences to use in fitting the field stars, check the form of the IMF, and substantially extend the study of RR Lyrae variables in the key NGC121 SMC globular cluster. The field pointings will allow us to reconstruct the star formation history, look for enhanced star formation that is expected when the SMC interacts with the LMC and/or Milky Way, and compare its main sequence luminosity {and mass} functions with those of the Milky Way, LMC, and UMi dwarf spheroidal. This proposal is part of a coordinated HST and ground-based study of the stellar history and star formation processes in the SMC.

NIC2 10173

Infrared 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 NICMOS infrared images of 3CR sources with z<0.3 as a major enhancement to an already superb dataset. We aim to deshroud dusty galaxies, study the underlying host galaxy free from the distorting effects of dust, locate hidden regions of star formation and establish the physical characteristics of the dust itself. We will measure frequency and spectral energy distributions of point-like nuclei, expected to be stronger and more prevalent in the IR, 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. The resulting database will be an incredibly valuable resource to the astronomical community for years to come.

NIC1 10143

Ultracool companions to the nearest L dwarfs

We propose to conduct the most sensitive survey to date for low mass companions to nearby L dwarfs. We will use NICMOS to image targets drawn from a volume-complete sample of 70 L dwarfs within 20 parsecs. The combination of infrared imaging and proximity will allow us to search for T dwarf companions at separations as small as 1.6 AU. This is crucial, since no ultracool binaries are currently known with separations exceeding 15 AU. Only 10 dwarfs in this sample have previous HST observations primarily at optical wavelengths. With the increased sensitivity of our survey, we will provide the most stringent test to date of brown dwarf models which envisage formation as ejected stellar embryos. In addition, our observations will be capable of detecting binaries with mass ratios as low as 0.3, and will therefore also test the apparent preference for equal-mass ultracool binaries. Finally, our observations offer the best prospect to date of detecting companions significantly cooler than the coolest t dwarf currently known.


The COSMOS 2-Degree ACS Survey

We will undertake a 2 square degree imaging survey {Cosmic Evolution Survey — COSMOS} with ACS in the I {F814W} band of the VIMOS equatorial field. This wide field survey is essential to understand the interplay between Large Scale Structure {LSS} evolution and the formation of galaxies, dark matter and AGNs and is the one region of parameter space completely unexplored at present by HST. The equatorial field was selected for its accessibility to all ground-based telescopes and low IR background and because it will eventually contain ~100, 000 galaxy spectra from the VLT-VIMOS instrument. The imaging will detect over 2 million objects with I> 27 mag {AB, 10 sigma}, over 35, 000 Lyman Break Galaxies {LBGs} and extremely red galaxies out to z ~ 5. COSMOS is the only HST project specifically designed to probe the formation and evolution of structures ranging from galaxies up to Coma-size clusters in the epoch of peak galaxy, AGN, star and cluster formation {z ~0.5 to 3}. The size of the largest structures necessitate the 2 degree field. Our team is committed to the assembly of several public ancillary datasets including the optical spectra, deep XMM and VLA imaging, ground-based optical/IR imaging, UV imaging from GALEX and IR data from SIRTF. Combining the full-spectrum multiwavelength imaging and spectroscopic coverage with ACS sub-kpc resolution, COSMOS will be Hubble’s ultimate legacy for understanding the evolution of both the visible and dark universe.

WFPC2 10772

WF4 Anomaly Characterization

A anomaly has been found in images from the WF4 CCD in WFPC2. The WF4 CCD bias level appears to have become unstable, resulting in sporadic images with either low or zero bias level. The other three CCDs {PC1, WF2, and WF3} appear to be unaffected and continue to operate properly. The impacts from “low” and “zero” bias are somewhat different, but in both cases the effects are immediately obvious. At present there are still many images which appear fine and unaffected, but the situation is quickly evolving. We believe the science impact for most observers will be minimal. Targets are by default placed on either PC1 or WF3 which continue to operate properly. However, observers requiring the full field of view {survey projects, large targets, etc.} will potentially lose one-third of their imaging area. Our understanding of this anomaly is still evolving, and most of the information is tentative.


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

HSTARS: 10023 – GSAcq (2,1,2) failed due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS1 @ 328/0627z GSAcq scheduled for 328/06:24:34 failed due to search radius limit exceeded. At 06:27:50 received 486 ESB A05 (Exceeded_SRL). Vehicle reverted to M2G control.

OBAD 1 @ 05:44:17 showed the following errors – V1 -1337.94, V2 -1768.35, V3 969.89, RSS 2420.30

OBAD 2 @ 06:18:10 showed the following errors – V1 4.74, V2 -4.08, V3 4.64, RSS 7.79

OBAD MAP @ 07:12:29 showed the following errors: V1 -57.03, V2 1862.90, V3 -24.65, RSS 1863.93



                             SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL      FAILURE TIMES
GSacq                  46                     45                 328/0627z 
(HSTAR 10023)
FGS REacq                  18                     18
OBAD with Maneuver   128                    128


SpaceRef staff editor.