Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3999

By SpaceRef Editor
December 2, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3999

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT November 01, 2005 (DOY 335)


ACS/HRC 10545

Icy planetoids of the outer solar system

Early HST studies of satellites of Kuiper belt object focussed on the 50-200 km objects that were the largest known at the time. In the past 3 years we have discovered a population of much more rare and much larger {500-2000+ km} icy planetoids in the Kuiper belt. These objects are the largest and brightest known in the Kuiper belt and, in the era when we now know of more than 1000 Kuiper belt objects, these few planetoids are likely to be the focus of much of the research on physical properties of the outer solar system for years to come. We are currently engaged in an intensive program involving Spitzer, Keck, and other telescopes to study the physical and dynamical properties of this new population. HST is uniquely capable of addressing one parameter fundamental to completing the physical picture of these planetoids: the existence and size of any satellites. The detection and characterization of satellites to these large planetoids would allow us to address unique issues critical to the formation and evolution of the outer solar system, including the measurement of densities, internal properties, sizes and shapes of these objects, the study of binary formation as a function of primary size, and the context of the Pluto-Charon binary. For these bright objects, a satellite search takes less than a full orbit, allowing the opportunity for a new project on UV spectroscopy of the planetoids to piggyback at no added time cost. This poorly explored spectral range has the potential to show unique signatures of trapped gasses, cosmochemically important ices, and complex organic materials.

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 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.


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.


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.

WFPC2 10501

Extending the Heritage: Clusters, Dust, and Star Formation in M51

Strongly interacting systems in the Local Universe offer the opportunity to investigate the modality of star formation under dynamical conditions more typical of the intermediate redshift Universe {z~0.5-1}, at an exquisite resolution unmatched by distant galaxies. M51 is one such system. Most recently, the Hubble Heritage program dedicated 24 HST orbits to obtain a 3X2 ACS mosaic of M51 in BVI, and Halpha. While this is designed to produce a lovely multi-color image of this photogenic target, its scientific return will be limited for star formation studies. Hence we propose to augment these observations by obtaining WFPC2 U band and NICMOS H band primary imaging {with NICMOS Paschen alpha in parallel} of selected pointings of this interacting galaxy system. At the modest cost of 14 additional orbits, we will: {1} accurately determine the ages of the young star cluster population; {2} secure the identification of 60-70 old globular clusters; {3} search for heavily dust enshrouded stellar clusters; {4} investigate the distribution of the cluster populations as a function of location {galactocentric, arms, interarms, etc.}; and {5} both remove the effects of dust and determine its properties. In addition to our specific science goals, these observations lend themselves, on their own or in synergy with data from GALEX and Spitzer, to a host of other investigations, including those on evolved diffuse stellar populations, galactic structure, and dust radiative transfer. We will thus release these data early to the community, by relinquishing part of the proprietary period.


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

HSTARS: (None)


  • 17598-0 – FHST SOB Macro Load @335/1442z
  • 17600-0 – Genslew for Prop 10696 – Slot#1 @335/1802z
  • 17601-0 – Genslew for Prop 10696 – Slot#2 @335/1804z
  • 17602-0 – Genslew for Prop 10696 – Slot#6 @335/1805z
  • 17603-0 – Genslew for Prop 10696 – Slot#5 @335/1807z


                            SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                 07                      07
FGS REacq                 07                      07
OBAD with Maneuver    20                      20


Ops Request 17598 was successfully executed at 14:41:03 on day 335 to uplink on-orbit macro for the FHST 2 and 3 “Stuck on Bottom” (SOB). The table was dumped, compared, and verified via CCS dump comparison.

SpaceRef staff editor.