Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4161

By SpaceRef Editor
July 24, 2006
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4161

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT July 21,22,23, 2006 (DOY 202,203,204)


NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8794

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 5

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.

ACS/WFC 10775

An ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters

We propose to conduct an ACS/WFC imaging survey of Galactic globular clusters. We will construct the most extensive and deepest set of photometry and astrometry to-date for these systems reaching a main sequence mass of ~0.2 solar mass with S/N >= 10. We will combine these data with archival WFPC2 and STIS images to determine proper motions for the stars in our fields. The resultant cleaned cluster CMDs will allow us to study a variety of scientific questions. These include [but are not limited to] 1} the determination of cluster ages and distances 2} the construction of main sequence mass functions and the issue of mass segregation 3} the internal motions and dynamical evolution of globular clusters, and 4} absolute cluster motions, orbits, and the Milky Way gravitational potential. We anticipate that the unique resource provided by the proposed treasury archive will play a central role in the field of globular cluster studies for decades, with a stature comparable to that of the Hubble Deep Field for high redshift studies.


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 May, 31 2006- Oct, 1- 2006. The first half of the program has a different proposal number: 10729.

WFPC2 10746

WFPC2 Cycle 14 CTE Monitor

Monitor CTE changes during Cycle 14. Test for chip-to-chip differences in CTE

CAL/ACS 10735

SBC MAMA Recovery

This proposal is designed for the initial turn-on of the ACS MAMA detector and to permit recovery after an anomalous shutdown. Anomalous shutdowns can occur as a result of bright object violations which trigger the Bright Scene Detection or Software Global Monitors. Anomalous shutdowns can also occur as a result of MAMA hardware problems. The Initial MAMA turn-on/recovery from anomalous shutdown consists of three tests: a signal processing electronics check, high voltage ramp-up to an intermediate voltage, and high voltage ramp-up to the full operating voltage. During each of the two high voltage ramp-ups, diagnostics are performed during a dark ACCUM. The turn-on is followed by a MAMA Fold Analysis.

NIC3 10616

Gotcha! Using Swift GRBs to Pinpoint the Highest Redshift Galaxies

While there is convincing evidence that the Universe was re-ionized between redshifts of 6.5 and 15, the role of galaxies in this process is still not understood. Several star-forming galaxies at z~6 have been identified in recent deep, narrow-field surveys, but the expensive observations along with cosmic variance and contamination make it difficult to assess their contribution to re-ionization. Moreover, the detection of galaxies at z>7 is exceedingly difficult even with the Hubble UDF or cluster lensing. Significant progress can be made using gamma-ray bursts {GRBs} localized with the now-operational Swift satellite, which is capable of detecting bursts out to z>10. GRBs have the advantage of being an uncontaminated signpost for star-formation, and their afterglows are sufficiently bright even at z>6 to allow photometric selection {via the Ly-alpha drop out technique} with 2-5 meter telescopes. Using our approved TOO programs at an extensive range of facilities {from 1-m robotic telescopes to Keck/Magellan}, we can rapidly find afterglows at z>6 and easily distinguish them from dusty low redshift bursts. This approach is highly efficient compared to current techniques, especially at z>7. Here we request imaging with NICMOS {z>6}, ACS {z~6}, and Spitzer/IRAC to characterize the properties {SFR, age, morphology} of up to five galaxies located in this manner, and begin to address their role in re-ionization. These observations are requested as >2 month TOOs, allowing flexibility of scheduling and at the same time taking a unique and timely advantage of the exquisite performance of three of NASA’s premier missions.

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.

ACS/WFC 10597

Resolving the Connection Between Globular Clusters and Low-Mass X-ray Binaries

Because of their high central densities, globular clusters {GCs} are efficient producers of low-mass X-ray binaries {LMXBs}. To shed light on the detailed formation mechanism of LXMBs in GCs, we propose to measure accurate structural parameters for hundreds of GCs in NGC 5128: the only giant elliptical galaxy within 5 Mpc of the Milky Way. We will carry out the first complete survey of GCs in the inner region of NGC 5128, measure GC structural parameters of unprecedented acccuracy, and derive GC luminosity profiles in the cluster cores. These measurement will allow us to determine precisely which GC structural properties control the presence of an X-ray source and thus probe the details of the LXMB formation process in GCs. We will additionally use the measured structural parameters to perform the most comprehensive study of the fundamental plane of GCs in early-type galaxies, a fundamental set of correlations which holds key information on GC formation and evolution.

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 10588

The Host Galaxies of Post-Starburst Quasars

We propose to use ACS to conduct a snapshot imaging survey of post-starburst quasars now being discovered in signficant numbers by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Post- starburst quasars are broad-lined AGN that also possess Balmer jumps and high-n Balmer absorption lines indicative of luminous stellar populations on order of 100 Myr old. These objects, representing a few percent of the z < 0.5 quasar population, may be an evolutionary stage in the transition of ultraluminous infrared galaxies into normal quasars, or a type of galaxy interaction that triggers both star formation and nuclear activity. These sources may also illustrate how black hole mass/bulge mass correlations arise. Ground- based imaging of individual poststarburst quasars has revealed merger remnants, binary systems, and single point sources. Our ACS snapshots will enable us to determine morphologies and binary structure on sub-arcsecond scales {surely present in the sample}, as well as basic host galaxy properties. We will be looking for relationships among morphology, particularly separation of double nuclei, the starburst age, the quasar black hole mass and accretion rate, that will lead to an understanding of the triggering activity and mutual evolution. This project will bring quantitative data and statistics to the previously fuzzy and anecdotal topic of the "AGN-starburst connection" and help test the idea that post-starburst quasars are an early evolutionary stage of normal quasars.

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.


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.

WFPC2 10534

Active Atmospheres on Uranus and Neptune

We propose Snapshot observations of Uranus and Neptune to monitor changes in their atmospheres on time scales of weeks, months, and years. Uranus is rapidly approaching equinox in 2007, with another 4 degrees of latitude becoming visible every year. Recent HST observations during this epoch {including 6818: Hammel, Lockwood, and Rages; 8680: Hammel, Rages, Lockwood, and Marley; 8634: Rages, Hammel, Lockwood, Marley, and McKay; and 10170: Rages, Hammel, Lockwood, and Marley} have revealed strongly wavelength-dependent latitudinal structure and the presence of numerous visible- wavelength cloud features in the northern hemisphere. Long-term ground-based observations {Lockwood and Thompson 1999} show seasonal brightness changes whose origins are not well understood. Recent near-IR images of Neptune obtained using adaptive optics on the Keck Telesccope together with images from our Cycle 9 Snapshot program {8634} show a general increase in activity at south temperate latitudes as well as the possible development of another Great Dark Spot. Further Snapshot observations of these two dynamic planets will elucidate the nature of long-term changes in their zonal atmospheric bands and clarify the processes of formation, evolution, and dissipation of discrete albedo features.

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.


Kuiper Belt Binaries: Probes of Early Solar System Evolution

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt are a scientific windfall: in them we have relatively fragile test particles which can be used as tracers of the early dynamical evolution of the outer Solar System. We propose a Snapshot program using the ACS/HRC that has a potential discovery efficiency an order of magnitude higher than the HST observations that have already discovered the majority of known transneptunian binaries. By more than doubling the number of observed objects in dynamically hot and cold subpopulations we will be able to answer, with statistical significance, the question of whether these groups differ in the abundance of binaries as a result of their particular dynamical paths into the Kuiper Belt. Today’s Kuiper Belt bears the imprints of the final stages of giant-planet building and migration; binaries may offer some of the best preserved evidence of that long-ago era.

ACS/HRC 10512

Search for Binaries Among Faint Jupiter Trojan Asteroids

We propose an ambitious SNAPSHOT program to survey faint Jupiter Trojan asteroids for binary companions. We target 150 objects, with the expectation of acquiring data on about 50%. These objects span Vmag = 17.5-19.5, a range inaccessible with ground-based adaptive optics. We now have a significant sample from our survey of brighter Trojans to suggest that the binary fraction is similar to that which we find among brighter main-belt asteroids, roughly 2%. However, our observations suggest a higher binary fraction for smaller main-belt asteroids, probably the result of a different formation mechanism {evident also from the physical characteristics of the binaries}. Because the collision environment among the Trojans is similar to that of the Main Belt, while the composition is likely to be very different, sampling the binary fraction among the fainter Trojans should help us understand the collisional and binary formation mechanisms at work in various populations, including the Kuiper Belt, and help us evaluate theories for the origin of the Trojans. Calibration of and constraints on models of binary production and collisional evolution can only be done using these large-scale, real-life physical systems that we are beginning now to find and utilize.

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.

ACS/WFC/NIC2 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.)


#10368 REacq(2,3,3) failed to RGA control. @ 203/20:13:36z

The REacq(2,3,3) scheduled at 203/20:10:18 failed due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS 2. The OBAD2 at 20:05:14 showed errors of V1= 8.38, V2= -4.70, V3= -1.22, and RSS= 9.68. The Map at 20:28:52 showed errors of V1=5.75,V2=0.16,V3=1.95, and RSS=6.07. Observation affected: ACS 3

#10370 REacq(2,3,2) resulted in fine lock backup (2,0,2) @ 204/15:23:04z

REacq(2,3,2) scheduled at 204/15:19:40 resulted in fine lock backup (2,0,2) due to receiving stop flag QF2STOPF on FGS 3 at 15:23:04. OBAD2 showed errors of V1=15.52, V2=7.93, V3=10.74,and RSS=20.49. The map at 15:27:06 showed errors of V1=1.27, V2=-9.92, V3=-2.77, and RSS=10.38. Observations affected: ACS 32-34



#1510-0 Adjust ACS Error Count @ 204/00:38z

                         SCHEDULED    SUCCESSFUL     FAILURE TIMES 
FGS GSacq                   24            24                                   
FGS REacq                   19            18                    203/20:10:18z (HSTAR #10368) 
OBAD with Maneuver      80            80     


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