Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4219

By SpaceRef Editor
October 16, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4219


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT October 13,14,15, 2006 (DOY 286,287,288)


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 10917

Afterglows and Environments of Short-Hard Gamma-Ray Bursts

Discovery of the first afterglows of short-hard bursts {SHBs} has led to a revolution in our understanding of these events, strongly suggesting that they originate in the mergers of compact-object binaries. Capitalizing on this progress, we propose to pursue the next generation of SHB observations with HST, tracking the decay of all accessible SHB afterglows to late times and pinpointing the location of several more within the context of their host galaxies. These observations will allow quantitative analysis of progenitor lifetimes and short burst environments, enable direct confrontation with population synthesis models, and provide updated event rate estimates for the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational-wave detectors that are now coming on-line.

FGS 10912

Trigonometric Calibration of the Distance Scale for Classical Novae

The distance scale for classical novae is important for understanding the stellar physics of their thermonuclear runaways, their contribution to Galactic nucleosynthesis, and their use as extragalactic standard candles. Although it is known that there is a relationship between their absolute magnitudes at maximum light and their subsequent rates of decline–the well-known maximum-magnitude rate-of-decline {MMRD} relation–it is difficult to set the zero-point for the MMRD because of the very uncertain distances of Galactic novae. We propose to measure precise trigonometric parallaxes for the quiescent remnants of the four nearest classical novae. We will use the Fine Guidance Sensors, which are proven to be capable of measuring parallaxes with errors of ~0.2 mas, well below what is possible from the ground.

ACS/WFC 10886

The Sloan Lens ACS Survey: Towards 100 New Strong Lenses

As a continuation of the highly successful Sloan Lens ACS {SLACS} Survey for new strong gravitational lenses, we propose one orbit of ACS-WFC F814W imaging for each of 50 high- probability strong galaxy-galaxy lens candidates. These observations will confirm new lens systems and permit immediate and accurate photometry, shape measurement, and mass modeling of the lens galaxies. The lenses delivered by the SLACS Survey all show extended source structure, furnishing more constraints on the projected lens potential than lensed-quasar image positions. In addition, SLACS lenses have lens galaxies that are much brighter than their lensed sources, facilitating detailed photometric and dynamical observation of the former. When confirmed lenses from this proposal are combined with lenses discovered by SLACS in Cycles 13 and 14, we expect the final SLACS lens sample to number 80–100: an approximate doubling of the number of known galaxy-scale strong gravitational lenses and an order-of-magnitude increase in the number of optical Einstein rings. By virtue of its homogeneous selection and sheer size, the SLACS sample will allow an unprecedented exploration of the mass structure of the early-type galaxy population as a function of all other observable quantities. This new sample will be a valuable resource to the astronomical community by enabling qualitatively new strong lensing science, and as such we will waive all but a short {3-month} proprietary period on the observations.

ACS/WFC 10863

Magnifying the High-z Universe with the Bullet Cluster 1E0657-56

We propose to use the bullet cluster 1E0657-56 {z=0.296} as a gravitational telescope to conduct a pencil beam survey of the galaxy population to z=7. The cluster 1E0657-56, one of the hottest and most X-ray luminous clusters known, is a highly efficient lens with critical curves comparable in size to Abell 1689. The proposed observations will yield a high-fidelity strong+weak lensing map of the cluster core, enabling identification of lensed, high-redshift sources and also providing a precision measurement of the cluster mass {good to 5% within 350 kpc}. The mass measurement will also serve as a key input for numerical simulations designed to reconstruct the dynamical history of the cluster merger and provide a new constraint on the dark matter self-interaction cross-section. In the cluster core the requested imaging will reach {de-magnified} magnitudes comparable to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field for lensed sources, but with 2+ magnitudes of magnification facilitating spectroscopic follow-up.

ACS/WFC 10829

Secular Evolution at the End of the Hubble Sequence

The bulgeless disk galaxies at the end of the Hubble Sequence evolve at a glacial pace relative to their more violent, earlier-type cousins. The causes of their internal, or secular evolution are important because secular evolution represents the future fate of all galaxies in our accelerating Universe and is a key ingredient to understanding galaxy evolution in lower-density environments at present. The rate of secular evolution is largely determined by the stability of the cold ISM against collapse, star formation, and the buildup of a central bulge. Key diagnostics of the ISM’s stability are the presence of compact molecular clouds and narrow dust lanes. Surprisingly, edge-on, pure disk galaxies with circular velocities below 120 km/s do not appear to contain such dust lanes. We propose to obtain ACS/WFC F606W images of a well-selected sample of extremely late-type disk galaxies to measure the characteristic scale size of the cold ISM and determine if they possess the unstable, cold ISM necessary to drive secular evolution. Our sample has been carefully constructed to include disk galaxies above and below the critical circular velocity of 120 km/s where the dust properties of edge-on disks change so remarkably. We will then use surface brightness profiles to search for nuclear star clusters and pseudobulges, which are early indicators that secular evolution is at work, as well as measure the pitch angle of the dust lanes as a function of radius to estimate the central mass concentrations.

NIC2 10825

The Formation Epoch of Early-type Galaxies: Constraints from the Fundamental Plane at z=1.3

Field and cluster surveys both show a ~50% decrease in the number of early-type galaxies at redshifts near 1. Galaxies that have either recently transformed into early-types or undergone star formation should have younger appearing stellar populations. The resulting change in the mass-to-light ratio can be detected by the offset in the fundamental plane with redshift. We will use the fundamental plane to test whether a significant fraction of early-type galaxies have evidence of recent star formation, using a sample of ~20 z=1.3 cluster and field early-type galaxies. This is 7 times larger than the sample previously used at this redshift. We already have the high signal-to-noise 12-20 hour long Keck spectra for these galaxies we need for velocity dispersions. To use the fundamental plane, we require sizes and surface brightnesses. We propose 12 orbits of NICMOS Camera 2 imaging to measure the sizes and surface brightness distributions of these objects in a rest-frame optical passband. These data will provide high quality surface brightness profiles out two ~2 half-light radii, at wavelengths comparable to previous fundamental plane studies. When combined with our spectra, the HST data will establish the mass-to-light ratio evolution for massive early-type galaxies from the fundamental plane. We will define the epoch of last star formation for these z=1.3 galaxies, directly testing the claims of strong evolution at z=1.

ACS/WFC 10816

The Formation History of Andromeda’s Extended Metal-Poor Halo

We propose deep ACS imaging in the outer spheroid of the Andromeda galaxy, in order to measure the star formation history of its true halo. For the past 20 years, nearly all studies of the Andromeda “halo” were focused on the spheroid within 30 kpc of the galaxy’s center, a region now known to host significant substructure and populations with high metallicity and intermediate ages. However, two groups have recently discovered an extended metal-poor halo beyond 30 kpc; this population is distinct in its surface-brightness profile, abundance distribution, and kinematics. In earlier cycles, we obtained deep images of the inner spheroid {11 kpc on the minor axis}, outer disk {25 kpc on the major axis}, and giant tidal stream, yielding the complete star formation history in each field. We now propose deep ACS imaging of 4 fields bracketing this 30 kpc transition point in the spheroid, so that the inner spheroid and the extended halo populations can be disentangled, enabling a reconstruction of the star formation history in the halo. A wide age distribution in the halo, as found in the inner spheroid, would imply the halo was assembled through ongoing accretion of satellite galaxies, while a uniformly old population would be a strong indication that the halo was formed during the early rapid collapse of the Andromeda proto-galaxy.

ACS/WFC 10812

Space Motions for the Draco and Sextans Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies

We will use the powerful astrometric capabilities of HST to measure proper motions for the Draco and Sextans dwarf spheroidal galaxies that will yield tangential velocities accurate to about 30 km/s. These two galaxies are the last inside a galactocentric radius of 200~kpc without measured proper motions. Knowing their orbits is critical for our understanding of the low- luminosity satellites of the Milky Way. In particular they are critical for understanding why Ursa Minor has survived tidal disruption on its plunging orbit and how Carina formed a large intermediate-age stellar population despite its small mass.

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/WFC 10793

A Survey for Supernovae in Massive High-Redshift Clusters

We propose to continue our ongoing program designed to measure, to an unprecedented 30% accuracy, the SN-Ia rate in a sample of massive z=0.5-0.9 galaxy clusters. The SN-Ia rate is a poorly known observable, especially at high z, and in cluster environments. The SN rate and its redshift dependence can serve as powerful discrimiminants for a number of key issues in astrophysics and cosmology. Our observations will: 1. Put clear constraints on the characteristic SN-Ia “delay time,” the typical time between the formation of a stellar population and the explosion of some of its members as SNe-Ia. Such constraints can exclude entire categories of SN-Ia progenitor models, since different models predict different delays. 2. Help resolve the question of the dominant source of the high metallicity in the intracluster medium {ICM} – SNe-Ia, or core-collapse SNe from an early stellar population with a top-heavy IMF, perhaps those population III stars responsible for the early re-ionization of the Universe. Since clusters are excellent laboratories for studying enrichment {they generally have a simple star-formation history, and matter cannot leave their deep potentials}, the results will be relevant for understanding metal enrichment in general, and the possible role of first generation stars in early Universal enrichment. Observations obtained so far during cycle 14 yield many SNe in our cluster fields, but our follow-up campaign reveals most are not in cluster galaxies. Our interim results indicate a cluster SN rate at the very low end of the range considered, and its accuracy is limited by the small number of cluster SNe. We request additional visits to increase the number of cluster SNe and achieve a measurement that is not limited by Poisson errors. A detailed progress report is included.

NIC3 10792

Quasars at Redshift z=6 and Early Star Formation History

We propose to observe four high-redshift quasars {z=6} in the NIR in order to estimate relative Fe/Mg abundances and the central black hole mass. The results of this study will critically constrain models of joint quasar and galaxy formation, early star formation, and the growth of supermassive black holes. Different time scales and yields for alpha-elements {like O or Mg} and for iron result into an iron enrichment delay of ~0.3 to 0.6 Gyr. Hence, despite the well-known complexity of the FeII emission line spectrum, the ratio iron/alpha – element is a potentially useful cosmological clock. The central black hole mass will be estimated based on a recently revised back hole mass – luminosity relationship. The time delay of the iron enrichment and the time required to form a supermassive black hole {logM>8 Msol, tau ~0.5Gyr} as evidenced by quasar activity will be used to date the beginning of the first intense star formation, marking the formation of the first massive galaxies that host luminous quasars, and to constrain the epoch when supermassive black holes start to grow by accretion.


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.

NIC1/NC2/NC3 10723

Cycle 14 NICMOS dark current, shading profile, and read noise monitoring program

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the dark current, read noise, and shading profile for all three NICMOS detectors throughout the duration of Cycle 14. This proposal is a slightly modified version of proposal 10380 of cycle 13 and 9993 of cycle12 that we cut down some exposure time to make the observation fit within 24 orbits.

ACS/HRC 10498

Detecting the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae

Modern supernovae searches in the nearby Universe are discovering large numbers of SNe which have massive star progenitors {Types II, Ib and Ic}. The extensive HST image archives within ~20Mpc enables their indvidual bright stellar content to be resolved. As massive, evolved stars are the most luminous single objects in a galaxy, the progenitos of core-collapse SNe should be directly detectable on pre-explosion images. Two recent highlights of our ongoing HST programme are that we have detected the first red supergiant progenitor of a normal type II supernova and shown that SN1993J came from a binary system by detecting the companion star at the position of the SN. We have detected a further two progenitor stars of normal type II-P supernovae, set mass limits on a further 7 and suggest that faint type II supernovae are unlikely to come from the collapse of very massive stars which form black holes. These discoveries are providing strong constraints on theoretical models of pre-supernova evolution and the origin of the supernova types. We request time to continue this successful project and require ACS observations of future SNe which are discovered in galaxies closer than 20Mpc which have pre-explosion HST archive images available. This will allow the SNe to be precisely positioned on the pre-explosion images. We have set a final goal for this project of determining masses and types, or setting restrictive mass-limits for 30 supernovae.


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


10468 – GSAcq(1,3,3) failed to RGA hold with stop flags on FGS1 GSAqc(1,3,3) scheduled at 288/12:25:00 failed at 12:28:59 Pre-acquisition OBAD RSS value was 5.24 arcseconds. Post acquisition MAP RSS value was 8.64 arcseconds.



                         SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                22                     21
FGS REacq                19                     19
OBAD with Maneuver    81                    81


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