Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4191

By SpaceRef Editor
September 5, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4191

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT September 01,02,03,04, 2006 (DOY 244,245,246,247)


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.

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.

FGS 10989

Astrometric Masses of Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs

We propose observations with HST/FGS to estimate the astrometric elements {perturbation orbit semi-major axis and inclination} of extra-solar planets orbiting six stars. These companions were originally detected by radial velocity techniques. We have demonstrated that FGS astrometry of even a short segment of reflex motion, when combined with extensive radial velocity information, can yield useful inclination information {McArthur et al. 2004}, allowing us to determine companion masses. Extrasolar planet masses assist in two ongoing research frontiers. First, they provide useful boundary conditions for models of planetary formation and evolution of planetary systems. Second, knowing that a star in fact has a plantary mass companion, increases the value of that system to future extrasolar planet observation missions such as SIM PlanetQuest, TPF, and GAIA.

ACS/HRC 10870

The Ring Plane Crossings of Uranus in 2007

The rings of Uranus turn edge-on to Earth in May and August 2007. In between, we will have a rare opportunity to see the unlit face of the rings. With the nine optically thick rings essentialy invisible, we will observe features and phenomena that are normally lost in their glare. We will use this opportunity to search thoroughly for the embedded “shepherd” moons long believed to confine the edges of the rings, setting a mass limit roughly 10 times smaller than that of the smallest shepherd currently known, Cordelia. We will measure the vertical thicknesses of the rings and study the faint dust belts only known to exist from a single Voyager image. We will also study the colors of the newly-discovered faint, outer rings; recent evidence suggests that one ring is red and the other blue, implying that each ring is dominated by a different set of physical processes. We will employ near-edge-on photometry from 2006 and 2007 to derive the particle filling factor within the rings, to observe how ring epsilon responds to the “traffic jam” as particles pass through its narrowest point, and to test the latest models for preserving eccentricities and apse alignment within the rings. Moreover, this data set will allow us to continue monitoring the motions of the inner moons, which have been found to show possibly chaotic orbital variations; by nearly doubling the time span of the existing ACS astrometry, the details of the variations will become much clearer.

NIC2 10847

Coronagraphic Polarimetry of HST-Resolved Debris Disks

We propose to take full advantage of the recently commissioned coronagraphic polarimetry modes of ACS and NICMOS to obtain imaging polarimetry of circumstellar debris disks that were imaged previously by the HST coronagraphs, but without the polarizers. It is well established that stars form in gas-rich protostellar disks, and that the planets of our solar system formed from a circum-solar disk. However, the connection between the circumstellar disks that we observe around other stars and the processes of planet formation is still very uncertain. Mid-IR spectral studies have suggested that disk grains are growing in the environments of young stellar objects during the putative planet-formation epoch. Furthermore, structures revealed in well resolved images of circumstellar disks suggest gravitational influences on the disks from co-orbital bodies of planetary mass. Unfortunately, existing imaging data provides only rudimentary information abou the disk grains and their environments. Our proposed observations, which can be obtained only with HST, will enable us to quantitatively determine the sizes of the grains and optical depths as functions of their location within the disks {i.e., detailed tomography}. Armed with these well-determine physical and geometrical systemic parameters, we will develop a set of self-consistent models of disk structures to investigate possible interactions between unseen planets and the disks from which they formed. Our results will also calibrate models of the thermal emission from these disks, that will in turn enable us to infer the properties of other debris disks that cannot be spatially resolved with current or planned instruments and telescopes.

ACS/WFC 10846

The Halo Structure of RCS2-2327.4-0204

We propose ACS, NICMOS, and Chandra observations of the central region of the extraordinary and newly discovered galaxy cluster: RCS2-2327.4-0204 at z=0.700. This cluster shows 3 or more arcs in ground-based imaging, with an Einstein radius of 49″. Such a large Einstein radius {3-4 times larger than seen in most clusters} has been seen in precisely one other cluster in the universe – namely Abell 1689 at z=0.18. From our proposed data we expect to see ~70 lensed source images, from ~20 image families. We will use both strong and weak lensing constraints from these data to construct the central mass profile of the cluster, which, when combined with ground based data extending to a half degree FOV, will allow us to measure critically important dark matter halo parameters {such as concentration}. The target cluster is selected from a large ongoing survey with a well-defined search volume, which allows us to compare our results to expectations from simulations. We will also compare the lensing derived mass profiles to the x- ray equivalent measures; this will illuminate whether the dominant baryonic component is in equilibrium with the potential. The area of high magnification behind this cluster is an order of magnitude larger than typical lensing clusters observed previously by HST; this order of magnitude increase in area directly translates into a 10 times better chance for finding very high redshift galaxies. Many of the highest redshift galaxies found to date have been found behind massive lensing clusters observed by HST, and we expect to add to that sample dramatically.

ACS/WFC 10824

Measuring the Shape and Orientation of the Galactic Dark-Matter Halo using Hypervelocity Stars

We propose to obtain high-resolution images of five hypervelocity stars in the Galactic halo in order to establish the first-epoch astrometric frame for them, as a part of a long-term program to measure precise proper motions. The origin of these recently discovered stars, all with positive radial velocities above 540 km/s, is consistent only with being ejected from the deep potential well of the massive black hole at the Galactic center. The deviations of their space motions from purely radial trajectories probe the departures from spherical symmetry of the Galactic potential, mainly due to the triaxiality of the dark-matter halo. Reconstructing the full three-dimensional space motion of the hypervelocity stars, through astrometric proper motions, provides a unique opportunity to measure the shape and orientation of the dark halo. The hypervelocity stars allow measurement of the potential up to 75 kpc from the center, independently of and at larger distances than are afforded by tidal streams of satellite galaxies such as the Sagittarius dSph galaxy. HVS3 may be associated with the LMC, rather then the Galactic center, and would therefore present a case for a supermassive black hole at the center of the LMC. We request one orbit with ACS/WFC for each of the five hypervelocity stars to establish their current positions relative to background galaxies. We will request a repeated observation of these stars in Cycle 17, which will conclusively measure the astrometric proper motions.

NIC2, ACS/WFC 10802

SHOES-Supernovae, HO, for the Equation of State of Dark energy

The present uncertainty in the value of the Hubble constant {resulting in an uncertainty in Omega_M} and the paucity of Type Ia supernovae at redshifts exceeding 1 are now the leading obstacles to determining the nature of dark energy. We propose a single, integrated set of observations for Cycle 15 that will provide a 40% improvement in constraints on dark energy. This program will observe known Cepheids in six reliable hosts of Type Ia supernovae with NICMOS, reducing the uncertainty in H_0 by a factor of two because of the smaller dispersion along the instability strip, the diminished extinction, and the weaker metallicity dependence in the infrared. In parallel with ACS, at the same time the NICMOS observations are underway, we will discover and follow a sample of Type Ia supernovae at z > 1. Together, these measurements, along with prior constraints from WMAP, will provide a great improvement in HST’s ability to distinguish between a static, cosmological constant and dynamical dark energy. The Hubble Space Telescope is the only instrument in the world that can make these IR measurements of Cepheids beyond the Local Group, and it is the only telescope in the world that can be used to find and follow supernovae at z > 1. Our program exploits both of these unique capabilities of HST to learn more about one of the greatest mysteries in science.


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 10748

WFPC2 CYCLE 14 Standard Darks

This dark calibration program obtains dark frames every week in order to provide data for the ongoing calibration of the CCD dark current rate, and to monitor and characterize the evolution of hot pixels. Over an extended period these data will also provide a monitor of radiation damage to the CCDs.

ACS/SBC 10743

Improved Wavelength Calibration of the SBC Prisms

Two QSOs at redshifts z=0.234 and z=0.313 will be observed in order to provide additional sampling points for the SBC prism wavelength calibration, using Ly alpha redshifted to 1500 AA and 1600 AA. Combined with the existing {Cycle 13} data, the wavelength scale will be sampled at 100 AA intervals between 1300 AA and 1700 AA.

ACS/HRC 10741

Continuum L-Flats for Ramp Filters

This program will obtain data to be used for creation of continuum L-flats for ACS ramp filters.

ACS/WFC 10730

External CTE Monitor

Monitor CTE in Cycle 14 for WFC and HRC

ACS/WFC/NIC3 10632

Searching for galaxies at z>6.5 in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

We propose to obtain deep ACS {F606W, F775W, F850LP} imaging in the area of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field NICMOS parallel fields and – through simultaneous parallel observations – deep NICMOS {F110W, F160W} imaging of the ACS UDF area. Matching the extreme imaging depth in the optical and near-IR bands will result in seven fields with sufficiently sensitive multiband data to detect the expected typical galaxies at z=7 and 8. Presently no such a field exist. Our combined optical and near-IR ultradeep fields will be in three areas separated by about 20 comoving Mpc at z=7. This will allow us to give a first assessment of the degree of cosmic variance. If reionization is a process extending over a large redshift interval and the luminosity function doesn’t evolve strongly beyond z=6, these data will allow us to identify of the order of a dozen galaxies at 6.56.5. Conversely, finding fewer objects would be an indication that the bulk of reionization is done by galaxies at z=6. By spending 204 orbits of prime HST time we will capitalize on the investment of 544 prime orbits already made on the Hubble Ultra Deep Field {UDF}. We have verified that the program as proposed is schedulable and that it will remain so even if forced to execute in the 2-gyro mode. The data will be non-proprietary and the reduced images will be made public within 2 months from the completion of the observations.

ACS/HRC 10539

Coronagraphic Imaging of Bright New Spitzer Debris Disks

Fifteen percent of bright main sequence stars possess dusty circumstellar debris disks revealed by far-infrared photometry. These disks are signposts of planetary systems: collisions among larger, unseen parent bodies maintain the observed dust population against losses to radiation pressure and P-R drag. Images of debris disks at optical, infrared, and millimeter wavelengths have shown central holes, rings, radial gaps, warps, and azimuthal asymmetries which indicate the presence of planetary mass perturbers. Such images provide unique insights into the structure and dynamics of exoplanetary systems. Relatively few debris disks have been spatially resolved. Only nine have ever been resolved at any wavelength, and at wavelengths < 10 microns {where subarcsec resolution is available}, only seven: beta Pictoris, HR 4796, HD 141569, AU Mic, HD 107146, HD 92945, and Fomalhaut. Imaging of many other debris disk targets has been attempted with various HST cameras/coronagraphs and adaptive optics, but without success. The key property which renders a debris disk observable in scattered light is its dust optical depth. The seven disks imaged so far all have a dust excess luminosity >~ 0.01% that of the central star; no disks with smaller optical depths have been detected. Most main sequence stars known to meet this requirement have already been observed, so future progress in debris disk imaging depends on discovering additional stars with large infrared excess. The Spitzer Space Telescope offers the best opportunity in 20 years to identify new examples of high optical depth debris disk systems. We propose ACS coronagraphic imaging of nine bright, new debris disks uncovered during the first year of the Spitzer mission. Our goal is to obtain the first resolved images of these disks at ~3 AU resolution, define the disk sizes and orientations, and uncover disk substructures indicative of planetary perturbations. The results should double the number of debris disks observed at 0.06″ resolution, and open a wider window into the structure of planetary systems.

ACS/WFC 10503

The Star Formation Histories of Early Type Dwarf Galaxies in Low Density Environments: Clues from the Sculptor Group

We seek HST ACS/WFC time to conduct a detailed study of the stellar populations of 5 early-type {dE, dE/dIrr} dwarf galaxies in the nearby {~1.5 to 4 Mpc} Sculptor group. Four of these systems have been recently found to contain modest amounts of HI, and existing ground-based and HST snapshot data point to the potential presence of small populations of young {blue} stars in at least three of these systems. Consequently, they resemble the Local Group ‘transition’ objects Phoenix and LGS3. The relative number of such transition systems is thus substantially larger in the low density environment of the Scl group than for the Local Group. Detailed stellar populations studies will allow estimation of the star formation histories, via stellar population modelling of the color-magnitude diagrams, of the target dwarfs, which in turn will connect to gas consumption and retention rates. For the two nearer dwarfs we aim to reach below the horizontal branch {a first for any system beyond the Local Group} equivalent to a main sequence turnoff age of ~1 Gyr. The observations of these two systems will also allow detection of RR Lyrae variables and thus direct confirmation of the presence of old populations. For the other three dwarfs will we cover the first 2.5 mags of the red giant branch, equivalent to the main sequence termination for a ~300 Myr population. The results will have implications for theories of galaxy formation and evolution, particularly with regard to the evolutionary relation between low luminosity dEs and dwarf irregulars.

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.

ACS/SBC 10259

Planetary nebulae in the SMC: a study of stellar evolution and populations in an extremely low- metallicity environment

The final phase of the evolution of low- and intermediate-mass stars, the planetary nebula {PN} ejection, is thought to largely contribute to the carbon and nitrogen enrichment in galaxies, in particular in old stellar populations. Stellar generations forming from a carbon- and nitrogen- enriched medium are a necessary condition for planetary and life formation. It is essential to understand how stars go through the process of shedding their chemically-enriched shells, and to test the predictions of stellar evolution theory on the relationship between stellar mass and elemental enrichment. Magellanic Cloud PNs are ideal probes for this study. Their abundances can be directly related to the mass of the central stars and to that of the stellar progenitor, without the great {distance and reddening} uncertainties that affect Galactic PNs. The UV lines are essential for calculating the abundances of the element related to stellar evolution {C, N, O} and to progenitor populations {e.g., Ne}. We propose to acquire UV spectroscopy of the SMC PNs whose morphology and central star properties has been previously determined by us with HST. We will derive the {C, N, O} abundance-to-mass relation, and determine the extent to which the mass of the progenitors of asymmetric PNs exceed that of symmetric PNs. We will also test the PN luminosity function, and probe cosmic recycling, in a very low-metallicity environment.


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


10416 – FHST OBAD Failure

At acquisition of signal 244/20:00:01 OBAD2 scheduled at 244/19:27:22 using trackers 1 and 2 failed. 486 ESB message 1901 “OBAD_TOO_FEW_STARS” was received at 244/19:30:12. Subsequent guide star acquisition was successful.

10418 – FHST OBAD Map Failure, Too Few Stars

OBAD without maneuver (map) scheduled at 247/19:37:25 using trackers 1 and 2 failed. ESB message 1901 “OBAD_TOO_FEW_STARS” was received at 19:40:11. GOBSTAT (“OBAD Status’)= 255 (AttDtErr) QT2GMST (“T2gStar_MapState”) = “MapCompl”

10419 – GSACQ(2,3,3) failed

Upon acquisition of signal at 248.00:56:45, HST was in gyro control with QF2STOPF, QF3STOPF and QSTOP flags set. GSACQ(2,3,3) at 248/00:18:43 failed to RGA control.


17543-2 – Dump OBAD tables after failed OBAD

17543-2 – Dump OBAD tables after failed OBAD


                           SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL 
FGS GSacq                 31                    30 
FGS REacq                 23                    23 
OBAD with Maneuver  108                   107 

SpaceRef staff editor.