Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4018

By SpaceRef Editor
December 30, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4018

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT December 29, 2005 (DOY 363)


ACS/HRC 10602

A Complete Multiplicity Survey of Galactic O2/O3/O3.5 Stars with ACS

Massive stars are preferentially formed in compact multiple systems and clusters and many of them remain spatially unresolved to date, even in our Galaxy. This has hindered the determination of the stellar upper mass limit. The lack of an accurate knowledge of the multiplicity of massive stars can also introduce biases in the calculation of the IMF at its high-mass end. We have recently used ACS/HRC to resolve HD 93129 A, the earliest O-type star known in the Galaxy, into a 55 mas binary. We propose here to extend that work into a complete multi-filter ACS imaging survey of all {20} known O2/O3/O3.5 Galactic stars to characterize the multiplicity of the most massive stars. The data will be combined with existing FGS observations to explore as large a parameter range as possible and to check for consistency. We will also derive the IMF of each system using a crowded-field photometry package and processing the data with CHORIZOS, a code that can derive stellar temperatures, extinctions, and extinction laws from multicolor photometry.


Lyman alpha morphology of local starburst galaxies

Our pilot imaging study of 6 local galaxies using ACS/SBC in the cosmologically important Lyman- alpha line has begun to reveal intriguing results. Here we propse ACS/HRC imaging of this sample, the approval of the which will allow for a significant increase in the impact of the original study and extend the limits of current understanding of Lyman-alpha escape. With this data we can accurately calibrate our Lyman-alpha line-only images and explore for the first time Lyman- alpha fluxes and equivalent widths in spatially resolved systems. These data would also allow us to test the current models of Lyman-alpha escape mechanisms and investigate possible correlations between Lyman-alpha emission and other local parameters such as age and internal reddening. The addition of high-resolution H-alpha data allows us to quantitatively study the decoupling of Lyman-alpha from non-resonant radiation and spatially explore the destruction and attenuation of Lyman-alpha. The study will go a long way towards resolving the outstanding issues complicating the interpretation of high redshift studies and the use of Lyman-alpha to quantitatively study the distant universe.

ACS/WFC 10543

Microlensing in M87 and the Virgo Cluster

Resolving the nature of dark matter is an urgent problem. The results of the MACHO survey of the Milky Way dark halo toward the LMC indicate that a significant fraction of the halo consists of stellar mass objects. The VATT/Columbia survey of M31 finds a similar lens fraction in the M31 dark halo. We propose a series of observations with ACS that will provide the most thorough search for microlensing toward M87, the central elliptical galaxy of the Virgo cluster. This program is optimized for lenses in the mass range from 0.01 to 1.0 solar masses. By comparing with archival data, we can detect lenses as massive as 100 solar masses, such as the remnants of the first stars. These observations will have at least 15 times more sensitivity to microlensing than any previous survey, e.g. using WFPC2. This is due to the factor of 2 larger area, factor of more than 4 more sensitivity in the I-band, superior pixel scale and longer baseline of observations. Based on the halo microlensing results in the Milky Way and M31, we might expect that galaxy collisions and stripping would populate the overall cluster halo with a large number of stellar mass objects. This program would determine definitively if such objects compose the cluster dark matter at the level seen in the Milky Way. A negative result would indicate that such objects do not populate the intracluster medium, and may indicate that galaxy harassment is not as vigorous as expected. We can measure the level of events due to the M87 halo: this would be the best exploration to date of such a lens population in an elliptical galaxy. Star-star lensing should also be detectable. About 20 erupting classical novae will be seen, allowing to determine the definitive nova rate for this giant elliptical galaxy. We will determine if our recent HST detection of an M87 globular cluster nova was a fluke, or indicative of a 100x higher rate of incidence of cataclysmic variables and nova eruptions in globulars than previously believed. We will examine the populations of variable stars, and will be able to cleanly separate them from microlensing.

ACS/WFC 10574

Witnessing Galaxy Transformation in Galaxy Groups at z > 1

The recent discover of five galaxy groups in the Lynx supercluster region offers us the exciting opportunity to observe for the first time groups in the process of collapsing into a merging pair of clusters at z > 1. Our current picture of structure formation suggests that substantial evolution of galaxy properties can occur in groups and filaments well before they enter the environs of massive clusters. However, neither current theoretical models nor observations give us a complete understanding of the relative importance of the different physical processes that control the structural and spectral transformations that occur prior to, during, and after infall into a dense environment. We propose direct observation of these newly discovered dynamically young structures in the Lynx region, in order to provide a critical benchmark in testing not only whether galaxy evolution occurs mostly prior to entry into the densest regions but will also constrain the relative importance of initial conditions in determining the fate of galaxy systems. Our analysis of these proposed ACS measurements will be complemented with an unique dataset we have already in the optical, infrared, mid-infrared, and X-ray.

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 10614

Internal Structure and Figures of Binary Asteroids

The goal of this proposal is to obtain very important information on the internal structure of a number of asteroids, and insight on the gravitational reaccumulation-process after a catastrophic disruptive collision. High resolutions observations with the HST/FGS interferometer are proposed to obtain high precision data for the topographic shape and size of a number of selected asteroids. Here we focus on objects with satellites, hence with known masses, so that the bulk density and porosity will be derived in the most accurate manner. This will yield plausible estimates on the internal properties of the objects, test wether they are close or not to figures of equilibrium {in terms of shape and adimensional rotational frequency}, and provide estimates of their relative density. The HST/FGS in interferometric mode is an ideal facility to carry out this program.

WFPC2 10608

Probing the star formation law in the extreme outer limits of M83, a prototypical XUV-disk galaxy

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer {GALEX} has discovered a new sub-class of spiral galaxy, which we refer to as extended UV-disk {XUV-disk} galaxies. They are distinguished by conspicuous UV-bright star clusters located at galactocentric radii extending to many times the optical {R25} extent, and appear to represent a population of spiral galaxies still actively building, or augmenting, their stellar disk. However, XUV-disks pose a mystery in the form of a relative lack of HII regions {traced by H-alpha emission} associated with outer disk, UV-bright stellar clusters. M83 is an XUV-disk prototype and the focus of this proposal. It has an H-alpha surface brightness profile characterized by a steep decline at the radius beyond which the gaseous disk is thought to become dynamically stable {against collapse and ensuing star formation}, but GALEX UV profiles show no “edge” at this location. Our HST study of M83 aims to resolve this puzzling discrepancy, confirmed in several XUV-disks, by searching for Lyman-continuum producing O stars that are either absent or present without nebulosity. HST provides the only means of resolving individual massive stars in the FUV band at M83’s distance. Without HST, we lose the critical ability to photometrically classify O and B stars. Our multiwavelength observations will also constrain the history of star formation in the outer disk over Gyr timescales by characterizing the evolved stellar population, both using resolved giants and color analysis of the diffuse background.


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


10066 – GSacq(2,3,3) results in finelock backup (2,0,2) due to scan step limit exceeded @363/1455Z

The GSacq(2,3,3) scheduled at 363/14:54:37 -15:02:21 resulted to finelock backup (2,0,2) using FGS-2, due to a Scan Step Limit Exceeded on FGS-3. Prior OBAD at 363/14:50:07 had total (RSS) attitude correction of 12.00 arcsecs. Subsequent OBAD/MAP at 363/15:02:13 had total (RSS) attitude correction of 7.16 arcsecs.



                         SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                09                   09
FGS REacq                05                   05
OBAD with Maneuver   28                   28


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