Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4244

By SpaceRef Editor
November 22, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4244


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT November 20, 2006 (DOY 324)


ACS/HRC 10833

Host Galaxies of Reverberation Mapped AGNs

We propose to obtain unsaturated high-resolution images of 17 reverberation-mapped active galactic nuclei in order to remove the point-like nuclear light from each image, thus yielding a “nucleus-free” image of the host galaxy. This will allow investigation of host galaxy properties: our particular interest is determination of the host-galaxy starlight contribution to the reverberation-mapping observations. This is necessary {1} for accurate determination of the relationship between the AGN nuclear continuum flux and the size of the broad Balmer-line emitting regions of AGNs, which is important in estimating black hole masses for large samples of QSOs, and {2} for accurate determination of the bolometric luminosity of the AGN proper. Through observations in Cycles 12 and 14, we have obtained or will obtain images of 18 of the 35 objects in the reverberation-mapping compilation of Peterson et al. {2004}. These observations revealed that the host-galaxy contribution, even in the higher-luminosity AGNs, is higher than expected and that all of the reverberation-mapped AGNs will have to be observed, not just the lower-luminosity sources; each source is different, and each source is important. Therefore we request time to observe the 17 remaining reverberation-mapped AGNs.


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.

ACS/WFC 10740

Absolute Photometric & Spectrophometric Calibration

This program has several goals: 1.}Verify repeatability of the ACS instrumentation on a single bright star to +/-0.2%. 2.}Determine any shift in the filter bandpasses since the preflight lab measurements. 3.}Determine the relative magnitude of the 3 primary WD calibrators to 0.1%. 4.}Refine the sensitivity calibration of the CCD prism and grisms at field center and determine the repeatability accuracy of this calibration. 5.}Determine the level of variability of the three HST red standard stars: VB-8 {M7}, 2M0038+18 {L3.5} and 2M0559-14 {T5}, and also measure their short wavelength {<7000A} fluxes. 6.}Cross calibrate with a faint STIS and NICMOS standard WD and solar analog star.

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 11045

ACS internal CTE monitor

The charge transfer efficiency {CTE} of the ACS CCD detectors will decline as damage due to on-orbit radiation exposure accumulates. This degradation will be closely monitored at regular intervals, because it is likely to determine the useful lifetime of the CCDs. All the data for this program is acquired using internal targets {lamps} only, so all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time {but not during SAA passages}. This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post-launch SMOV testing {program 8948}, so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. Extended Pixel Edge Response {EPER} and First Pixel Response {FPR} data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for both the Wide Field Channel {WFC}, and the High Resolution Channel {HRC}.

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 10906

The Fundamental Plane of Massive Gas-Rich Mergers: II. The QUEST QSOs

We propose deep NICMOS H-band imaging of a carefully selected sample of 23 local QSOs. This program is the last critical element of a comprehensive investigation of the most luminous mergers in the nearby universe, the ultraluminous infrared galaxies {ULIRGs} and the quasars. This effort is called QUEST: Quasar / ULIRG Evolutionary STudy. The high-resolution HST images of the QUEST QSOs will complement an identical set of images on the ULIRG sample obtained during Cycle 12, an extensive set of ground-based data that include long-slit NIR spectra from a Large VLT Program, and a large set of mid-infrared spectra from a Cycle 1 medium-size program with Spitzer. This unique dataset will allow us to derive with unprecedented precision structual, kinematic, and activity parameters for a large unbiased sample of objects spanning the entire ULIRG/QSO luminosity function. These data will refine the fundamental plane of massive gas-rich mergers and enable us to answer the following quesitons: {1} Do ultraluminous mergers form elliptical galaxies, and in particular, giant ellipticals? {2} Do ULIRGs evolve into optical bright QSOs? The results from this detailed study of massive mergers in the local universe will be relevant to understanding the basic physical processes involved in creating massive early-type host on the one hand, and growing/feeding embedded massive black holes on the other, in major galaxy mergers. This is an important question since 50% of cosmic star formation at high-z and most of the big BHs appear to be formed in this process.

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.

WFPC2 10481

HST Observations of Astrophysically Important Visual Binaries

This is a continuation of a project begun in Cycle 7 and continued up through Cycle 11. The program consists of annual or biannual WFPC2 or FGS observations of three visual binary stars that will ultimately yield fundamental astrophysical results, once their orbits and masses are determined. Our targets are the following: {1} Procyon {P = 41 yr}, for which our first WFPC2 images yielded an extremely accurate angular separation of the bright F star and its much fainter white-dwarf companion. Combined with ground-based astrometry of the bright star, our observation significantly revised downward the derived masses, and brought Procyon A into excellent agreement with theoretical evolutionary tracks for the first time. With the continued monitoring proposed here, we will obtain masses to an accuracy of better than 1%, providing a testbed for theories of both Sun-like stars and white dwarfs. {2} G 107-70, a close double white dwarf {P = 19 yr} that promises to add two accurate masses to the tiny handful of white-dwarf masses that are directly known from dynamical measurements. {3} Mu Cas {P = 21 yr}, a famous metal-deficient G dwarf for which accurate masses will lead to the stars’ helium contents, with cosmological implications.

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.

WFPC2 10915

ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey

Existing HST observations of nearby galaxies comprise a sparse and highly non-uniform archive, making comprehensive comparative studies among galaxies essentially impossible. We propose to secure HST’s lasting impact on the study of nearby galaxies by undertaking a systematic, complete, and carefully crafted imaging survey of ALL galaxies in the Local Universe outside the Local Group. The resulting images will allow unprecedented measurements of: {1} the star formation history {SFH} of a >100 Mpc^3 volume of the Universe with a time resolution of Delta[log{t}]=0.25; {2} correlations between spatially resolved SFHs and environment; {3} the structure and properties of thick disks and stellar halos; and {4} the color distributions, sizes, and specific frequencies of globular and disk clusters as a function of galaxy mass and environment. To reach these goals, we will use a combination of wide-field tiling and pointed deep imaging to obtain uniform data on all 72 galaxies within a volume-limited sample extending to ~3.5 Mpc, with an extension to the M81 group. For each galaxy, the wide-field imaging will cover out to ~1.5 times the optical radius and will reach photometric depths of at least 2 magnitudes below the tip of the red giant branch throughout the limits of the survey volume. One additional deep pointing per galaxy will reach SNR~10 for red clump stars, sufficient to recover the ancient SFH from the color-magnitude diagram. This proposal will produce photometric information for ~100 million stars {comparable to the number in the SDSS survey} and uniform multi-color images of half a square degree of sky. The resulting archive will establish the fundamental optical database for nearby galaxies, in preparation for the shift of high-resolution imaging to the near-infrared.


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


10520 – On Sunday, November 19 just before 2 pm local time, evidence for a new short circuit on the HST solar array appeared in HST engineering telemetry. The short is associated with the solar panel assemblies (SPAs) that charge Battery 4. The short represents a loss of 0.6 A of system load capability and an increase in structure current of 0.6 A while the Battery 4 is being charged and 1.4 A of structure current once the -AA and -C SPAs have been disconnected. In orbit day the HST structure current is now varying between 3.0 and 3.8 A. Neither the loss of charge current nor the increase in structure current are impacting HST operations.



                         SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq               09                     09
FGS REacq               06                     06
OBAD with Maneuver  30                     30


SpaceRef staff editor.