Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4013

By SpaceRef Editor
December 22, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4013

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT December 21, 2005 (DOY 355)



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 10497

Cepheid Calibrations of the Luminosity of Two Reliable Type Ia Supernovae and a Re- determination of the Hubble Constant

We propose to determine the luminosity of two type Ia supernovae {SNe Ia}, 1995al in NGC 3021 and SN 2002fk in NGC 1309, by observing Cepheids in their spiral hosts. Modern CCD photometry yields an extremely tight Hubble diagram for SNe Ia with a precisely determined intercept {i.e., Delta H_0/H_0}. Yet, the measurement of the true Hubble constant via SNe Ia is limited by the calibration derived from problematic and unreliable SN data. Most of the SNe Ia calibrated by HST to date are significantly compromised by the systematics of photographic photometry, high reddening and SN peculiarity, and by the photometric anomolies associated with WFPC2. The extended reach of ACS now provides opportunities to more reliably calibrate SNe Ia and H_0. Our Cepheid calibration of a reliable SN Ia dataset, SN 1994ae, using ACS in Cycle 11 resulted in a 15% increase in H_0 from the value derived by the HST SN Ia Calibration Program. Yet, there remains a terribly small sample of reliable SN Ia data sets on which to base such a crucial cosmological result. SN 1995al and SN 2002fk are two of the best observed SNe Ia both with little reddening. They provide two opportunities to use ACS for placing the calibration of H_0 via SN Ia on firmer footing and potentially improve its precision.

ACS/WFC 10582

Probing The Galaxy-wide Globular Cluster – Low Mass X-ray Binary Connection in Early-type Galaxies

The combination of high-resolution imaging from Hubble {HST} and Chandra {CXO} has completely revolutionized our understanding of extragalactic low-mass X-ray binaries {LMXBs} and globular clusters {GCs}; however, studies have been limited by short X-ray exposures and relatively small fields. NGC 4697 amd NGC 4365 are relatively simple elliptical galaxies in the X- ray that will have deep CXO observations. We propose ACS observations in six flanking fields per galaxy to provide a study of the GC-LMXB connection in normal early-type galaxies with unprecedented depth, spatial resolution and areal coverage. Combined with existing central field observations, we will detect ~900 and ~2700 GCs GCs in most of NGC 4697 and all of NGC 4365. These two galaxies will have the greatest number of detected GC-LMXBs to date {~70 & 120}. We will measure the fraction of LMXBs found in GCs, and the fraction of GCs which contain LMXBs, as a function of X-ray luminosity, galactocentric distance, color, GC half-light radius, and local GC specific frequency. We will test existing models of GC formation/evolution and LMXB formation/evolution. Using the radial profile of optical light, GCs, and LMXBS, we will determine the percentage of field LMXBs which may have originated in GCs.

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.

FGS 10612

Binary Stars in Cyg OB2: Relics of Massive Star Formation in a Super-Star Cluster

We propose to make a high angular resolution SNAP survey of the massive stars in the nearby, super-star cluster Cyg OB2. We will use FGS1r TRANS mode observations to search for astrometric companions in the separation range of 0.01 to 1.00 arcsec and in the magnitude difference range smaller than 4 magnitudes. The observations will test the idea that the formation of very massive stars involves mergers and the presence of nearby companions. Discovery of companions to massive stars in this relatively nearby complex will provide guidance in the interpretation of apparently supermassive stars in distant locations. The search for companions will also be important for verification of fundamental parameters derived from spectroscopy, adjustments to main sequence fitting and distance estimations, determining third light contributions of eclipsing binaries, identifying wide colliding wind binaries, studying the relationship between orbital and spin angular momentum, and discovering binaries amenable to future mass determinations. The massive star environment in Cyg OB2 may be similar to the kinds found in the earliest epoch of star formation, so that a study of the role of binaries in Cyg OB2 will help us understand the formation processes of the first stars in the Universe.

FGS 10757

Monitoring FGS1r’s Interferometric Response as a Function of Spectral Color

This proposal obtains reference point source Transfer Functions {S-Curves} for FGS1r through the F583W filter and the F5ND attenuator at the center position of the FGS1r FOV for a variety of stars of different spectral types. These Transfer Functions are needed to support the analysis of GO science data for the study of close and wide binary star systems and for determining the angular size and shape of extended sources. This proposal observes stars that have been observed in previous cycles to monitor the long term evolution of the FGS1r S-curves. This proposal also {1} monitors the FGS1r Lateral Color response {using stars Latcol-A and Latcol-B}, {2} calibrates the “Pos/Trans” bias of a star’s position as determined from Transfer mode and Position mode observations, and {3} calibrates the shift of a star’s centroid when observed with F5ND relative to that when observed with F583W.

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.

NIC3/ACS/WFC 10504

Characterizing the Sources Responsible for Cosmic Reionization

Our group has demonstrated the role that massive clusters, acting as powerful cosmic lenses, can play in constraining the abundance and properties of low-luminosity star-forming sources beyond z~6; such sources are thought to be responsible for ending cosmic reionization. The large magnification possible in the critical regions of well-constrained clusters brings sources into view that lie at or beyond the limits of conventional exposures such as the UDF, as well as those in imaging surveys being undertaken with IRAC onboard Spitzer. We have shown that the combination of HST and Spitzer is particularly effective in delivering the physical properties of these distant sources, constraining their mass, age and past star formation history. Indirectly, we therefore gain a valuable glimpse to yet earlier epochs. Recognizing the result {and limitations} of the UDF exposure, we propose a systematic search through 6 lensing clusters with ACS and NICMOS for further z~6-7 sources in conjunction with existing deep IRAC data. Our survey will mitigate cosmic variance and extend the search both to lower luminosities and, by virtue of the NICMOS/IRAC combination, to higher redshift. The goal is to count and characterize representative sources at z~6-10 and to delineate the redshift range of activity for the planning of future observations.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                         SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                08                    08
FGS REacq                06                    06
OBAD with Maneuver   28                    28


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