Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4052

By SpaceRef Editor
February 20, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4052

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science

DAILY REPORT        #4052

PERIOD COVERED: UT February 47, 2006 (DOY 047)


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/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.

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 10577

Resolving the non-radiative shock in SN1006

An ACS image of the H alpha filament in the supernova remnant SN1006 will resolve the thickness of the H alpha emission zone. This will permit us to derive an accurate pre-shock density, which in turn can be used to model the time-dependent X-ray spectrum of the bright X- ray ridge with no free parameters, thus benchmarking these widely used models. We will also search for evidence of a shock precursor, and we will use the scale of ripples in the shock to estimate the level of density inhomogeneity in the pre-shock gas.


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.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8793

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 4

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.

NIC2 10603

Multiwavelength Imaging of Edge-on Protoplanetary Disks: Quantifying the Growth of Circumstellar Dust

Young, edge-on circumstellar disks are uniquely valuable laboratories for the study of planet formation. In these objects, the central star is occulted from direct view, significant PSF artifacts are absent, and the disk is clearly seen as a central dust lane flanked by faint disk reflected light. The detailed morphology of these nebulae and its variation with wavelength provide crucial information on the disk internal structure and the properties of its constituent dust grains. A key observable is the slope defining the wavelength dependence of the dust scattering opacity, which becomes shallower when grain growth has taken place; multiwavelength resolved disk images are the key dataset enabling such measurements. Recent analyses of three different edge-on disks have revealed a diversity in their dust properties that is indicative of different degrees of dust grain evolution having taken place in each system. This characterization of disk grain growth, when applied comparatively to a larger sample of these objects, would enable the construction of an evolutionary sequence of young disks at successive stages on the road to planet formation. In pursuit of this goal, we have identified a sample of 15 edge-on disks previously discovered by HST or groundbased telescopes, but for which high fidelity, high spatial resolution images do not yet exist in both the optical and near-infrared. We propose broad-band multicolor imaging with NICMOS of all these targets, and ACS imaging of nine of these targets In combination with existing data, the proposed images will form a complete database of high resolution optical/near-IR images for these 15 disk systems. Scattered light modeling will be used to derive the disk structure and dust properties, yielding results that will be of fundamental importance for our understanding of grain properties during protoplanetary disk evolution.


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


10136 – GSAcq(1,2,2) failed due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS 1 @ 048/0818z

GSAcq(1,2,2) scheduled at 048/08:18:04 failed due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS 1. Received ESB 1805 “T2G Moving Target Detected” @ 048/08:12:49. Received ESB a05 “Exceeded SRL” @ 048/08:23:25. OBAD #1: V1 454.41, V2 -413.52, V3 -185.24, RSS 641.72 OBAD #2: V1 18.16, V2 1.55, V3 18.31, RSS 25.83



                          SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL      FAILURE TIMES 
 GSacq                08                     07                 048/0818z 
 (HSTAR 10136) 
 FGS REacq                06                     06 
 OBAD with Maneuver   28                     28 


SpaceRef staff editor.