Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4053

By SpaceRef Editor
February 20, 2006
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4053

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT February 17,18,19, 2006 (DOY 048,049,050)


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.

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. Calibration images will be obtained to further characterize the anomaly.


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 10621

ACS Zero Point Verification

The uncertainties in the photometric zero points create a fundamental limit to the accuracy of photometry. The current state of the ACS calibration is with zero point uncertainties of 0.03 magnitudes. The reason for this is that the ACS calibrations are based primarily on semi-emprical synthetic zero points and observations of fields too crowded for accurate ground-based photometry. I propose to obtain ACS images of the omega Cen standard field with all nine broadband ACS/WFC filters. This will permit the direct determination of the ACS zero points by comparison with excellent ground-based photometry, and should reduce their uncertainties to less than 0.01 magnitudes. A second benefit is that it will facilitate the comparison of the WFPC2 and ACS photometric systems, which will be important as WFPC2 is phased out and ACS becomes HST’s primary imager. Finally, three of the filters will be repeated from my Cycle 12 observations, allowing for a measurement of any change in sensitivity.

FGS 10611

Precise Distances to Nearby Planetary Nebulae

We propose to carry out astrometry with the FGS to obtain accurate and precise distances to four nearby planetary nebulae. In 1992, Cahn et al. noted that “The distances to Galactic planetary nebulae remain a serious, if not THE most serious, problem in the field, despite decades of study.” Twelve years later, the same statement still applies. Because the distances to planetary nebulae are so uncertain, our understanding of their masses, luminosities, scale height, birth rate, and evolutionary state is severely limited. To help remedy this problem, HST astrometry can guarantee parallaxes with half the error of any other available approach. These data, when combined with parallax measurements from the USNO, will improve distance measurements by more than a factor of two, producing more accurate distances with uncertainties that are of the order of ~6%. Lastly, most planetary nebula distance scales in the literature are statistical. They require several anchor points of known distance in order to calibrate their zero point. Our program will provide “gold standard” anchor points by the end of 2006, a decade before any anticipated results from future space astrometry missions.

ACS/HRC 10607

Probing Circumstellar and Interstellar Dust with Scattered-Light Echoes

Scattered-light echoes are one of the most powerful and efficient probes of the structure and composition of dust in circumstellar and interstellar {ISM} environments. Observations of light echoes provide exact three-dimensional positions of dust while constraining its density, grain- size and chemical make-up. Furthermore, echoes can be used as distance indicators via polarization measurements. We propose to take deep, high-resolution ACS/HRC images of five supernovae {SNe}. Two of these, SNe 1991T and 1998bu, have known circumstellar echoes that have only recently become fully resolvable with HST, and therefore require new observations. Only four echo-producing SNe are currently known, and in an attempt to increase this sample, we will also observe SNe 1999bw, 2002hh, and 2004dj. All three SNe are strong candidates for producing echoes from circumstellar and ISM dust, but only at angular sizes that HST can resolve. With these observations, we will use light echoes to their full advantage, to study {1} the mass-loss histories of Type II and Ia SN progenitors, {2} the contributions of these SNe and their progenitors to the dust content of their galaxies, {3} the structure of gas and stars in the ISM of external galaxies, and {4} we will independently measure the distance to the host galaxies, including a member of the Virgo cluster, and M96, a Type Ia cosmological distance- scale calibrator.

ACS/WFC 10596

AGNs with Intermediate-mass Black Holes: A Test of the Black Hole-Bulge Paradigm

The recent progress in the study of central black holes in galactic nuclei has led to a general consensus that supermassive {10^6-10^9 solar mass} black holes are closely connected with the formation and evolutionary history of large galaxies, especially their bulge component. Two outstanding issues, however, remain unresolved. Can central black holes form in the absence of a bulge? And does the mass function of central black holes extend below 10^6 solar masses? Intermediate-mass black holes {10^4-10^6 solar masses}, if they exist, may offer important clues to the nature of the seeds of supermassive black holes. In a first systematic search using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we have recently discovered 19 Type 1 AGNs with candidate intermediate-mass black holes that reside in low-luminosity, presumably late-type host galaxies. Follow-up observations with Keck indicate that these objects obey the low-mass extension of the well-known correlation between black hole mass and bulge stellar velocity dispersion. However, very little is known about the host galaxies themselves, including the crucial question of whether they have bulges or not. We propose to obtain ACS/WFC images of this unique sample of AGNs in order to investigate the detailed structural properties of the host galaxies. We are particularly keen to determine whether the hosts contain bulges, and if so, where they lie on the fundamental plane of spheroids compared to the bulges of supermassive black holes. We will also be able to measure an accurate optical luminosity for the AGN, which is an essential ingredient to improve the current mass estimates.

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 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 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.

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/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.


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.

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 10520

Resolving the Complex Star Formation History of the Leo I Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy

Determining the star formation histories {SFHs} and chemical evolution of nearby galaxies gives us powerful constrains on the physical processes that regulate galaxy evolution. The SFHs can be measured most accurately by comparing the observed densities of stars in color-magnitude diagrams {CMDs} to predictions from stellar evolutionary models. WFPC2 imaging of the Leo I dSph shows it is unique because its stellar population is relatively young. Approximately 68% of its stars formed between 1 and 7 Gyr ago and only 12% of its stars formed >~ 10 Gyr ago. We propose to vastly improve the derived SFH of Leo I by exploiting ACS/WFC’s higher quantum efficiency at bluer wavelengths, higher spatial resolution, and larger field-of-view. The figure of merit for our proposed observations, defined as the age resolution times the number of stars detected, will be a factor of 12 higher than existing WFPC2 observations. To surmount the degeneracy of age and metallicity in the CMD, we have independently measured the metallicity distribution of its stars using spectroscopy. Simultaneously modeling the metallicity distribution and CMD, we will firmly constrain the evolution of the Leo I dSph, a unique example of an isolated dwarf galaxy that has not been influenced by interactions with the Milky Way or M31.

ACS/HRC 10508

Orbits, Masses, and Densities of Three Transneptunian Binaries

The subset of transneptunian objects {TNOs} having natural satellites offers unique opportunities for physical studies of these distant relics from the outer parts of the protoplanetary nebula. HST/ACS is ideally suited to determining orbits of TNO satellites, resulting in the system masses. In conjunction with thermal emission observations by Spitzer, which provides sizes, we can determine the densities of TNOs. Densities offer a powerful window into their bulk compositions and interior structures.

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.


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


#10138: OM1EBOXT & OOBBH6T Temperture Limits @ 050/0245z At 050/00:37:43 OM1EBOXT (MAMA 1 Electrical Box Temp) and OOBBH6T (Optical Bench Bulkhead 6 Temp) started displaying the following OOL values: OM1EBOXT: Red Low EU= -0.15 (LL = 0). OOBBH6T: Red Low EU= 9.75667 (LL = 10). Mnemonics continued to flag OOL till LOS @ 050/01:26:15. Contacted SI/SE who advised due to HST being in a “cold angle”, to change the temp limits of the effected mnemonics for 24 hours (see Ops Note 1452-1).

#10139: GSACQ(1,3,1) failed, Search Radius Limit Exceeded on FGS 1 @ 050/1912z GSACQ(1,3,1) at 050/19:08:08 failed due to Search Radius Limit Exceeded on FGS 1 at 19:12:47. One 486 status buffer message A05 (Search Radius Limit Exceeded on FGS1). OBAD at 19:02:35 prior to GSACQ had total RSS attitude error correction of 23.68 arcseconds OBAD at 19:15:09 after failed GSACQ had total RSS error of 195.48 arcseconds. REACQ(1,3,1) at 20:48:27 failed with 486 ESB message A05. REACQ(1,3,1) at 22:19:49 failed with 486 ESB message A0E.

#10140: Roll (V1) attitude error vector limit violation (QDVEFGS1) at AOS @ 051/0057z Upon AOS @ 051/00:57:16 mnemonic (QDVEFGS1) V1 attitude error vector flagged out of limits showing Red Low -307.106 arcseconds. At the time a T2 slew (00:41:04 – 00:54:05) had just finished. No 486 ESB messages were noted. Last prior GSAcq (050/19:08:06) failed as well as the next two REAcq (050/20:48:27 & 050/22:47:45), see HSTAR 10139. At 051/01:19:34 QDVEFGS1 flagged out of limits for a second time showing Red Low -307.106 arcseconds.



#1452-1: OM1EBOXT & OOBBH6T Temperature Limits @050/0237z, (closed @051/0300z)

                                SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                 24             23
FGS REacq                 20             18
OBAD with Maneuver    88             88


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