Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4260

By SpaceRef Editor
December 15, 2006
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4260


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT December 14, 2006 (DOY 348)



A Cepheid Distance to the Coma Cluster

We propose to use the Advanced Camera for Surveys to search for Cepheid variables in two spiral galaxies in the core of the Coma cluster. A direct application of the canonical primary distance indicator at 100 Mpc will measure the far-field Hubble constant free of many of the systematic uncertainties which beset current determinations relying on secondary indicators. Establishing the far-field H_o with Cepheids will provide one of the strongest links in the extragalactic distance scale and will directly calibrate the fiducial fundamental plane of elliptical galaxies in Coma. With ACS/HRC, S/N=5 to 10 or better can be reached for Cepheids with periods of 40d to 70d at mean light in 5 orbits with the F606W filter if H_o=72 km/s/Mpc. Efficient detection and phasing can be done with twelve epochs optimally spaced for periods of 40-70d.

ACS/WFC 10795

The Largest Galaxies in the Local Universe: New Light on Disk Galaxy Formation?

In the standard scenario of disk galaxy formation in a hierarchical Universe, large disks form late via the accretion of either hot or cold gas. Direct observational evidence for such late accretion- driven disk formation has not been forthcoming. In this proposal, we describe the discovery of a rare new type of galaxy that may be examples of massive disks in the process of assembly. We have identified a sample of three such galaxies selected from the SDSS DR4. They are extremely large {diameters over 100 kpc} and highly luminous systems with amorphous structures {no obvious spiral arms or bulges}. They are larger than the largest normal spirals in the survey, and have significantly bluer colors, lower metallicities, lower dust extinctions, higher UV luminosities and higher total star formation rates than the most massive ordinary spirals. We request HST images in the rest-frame near-UV and red to provide detailed maps of the underlying structure of these galaxies as well as the distribution of the young stars. The interstellar medium of these galaxies is evidently quite different from that of normal large spirals and starburst galaxies and they may be experiencing a different mode of star formation. We believe they are worthy of further investigation with the high-resolution imaging capabilities of HST.

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 10905

The Dynamic State of the Dwarf Galaxy Rich Canes Venatici I Region

With accurate distances, the nearest groups of galaxies can be resolved in 3 dimensions and the radial component of the motions of galaxies due to local density perturbations can be distinquished from cosmological expansion components. Currently, with the ACS, galaxy distances within 8 Mpc can be measured effectively and efficiently by detecting the tip of the red giant branch {TRGB}. Of four principal groups at high galactic latitude in this domain, the Canes Venatici I Group {a} is the least studied, {b} is the most populated, though overwhelmingly by dwarf galaxies, and {c} is likely the least dynamically evolved. It is speculated that galaxies in low mass groups may fail to retain baryons as effectively as those in high mass groups, resulting in significantly higher mass-to-light ratios. The CVn I Group is suspected to lie in the mass regime where the speculated astrophysical processes that affect baryon retention are becoming important.

NIC1 10889

The Nature of the Halos and Thick Disks of Spiral Galaxies

We propose to resolve the extra-planar stellar populations of the thick disks and halos of seven nearby, massive, edge-on galaxies using ACS, NICMOS, and WFPC2 in parallel. These observations will provide accurate star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 1.5 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch sampled along the two principal axes and one intermediate axis of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~32 V- mag per square arcsec. These observations will provide the definitive HST study of extra-planar stellar populations of spiral galaxies. Our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, and morphology and as function of these galaxy properties we will provide: – The first systematic study of the radial and isophotal shapes of the diffuse stellar halos of spiral galaxies – The most detailed comparative study to date of thick disk morphologies and stellar populations – A comprehensive analysis of halo and thick disk metallicity distributions as a function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy. – A sensitive search for tidal streams – The first opportunity to directly relate globular cluster systems to their field stellar population We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process preserved in the old stellar populations to test halo and thick disk formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme. We will test LambdaCDM predictions on sub-galactic scales, where it is difficult to test using CMB and galaxy redshift surveys, and where it faces its most serious difficulties.

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.

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.


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


10558 – REACQ(2,1,2) fails during LOS Upon acquisition of signal at 10:38:40, QF2STOPF and QSTOP flags were set and vehicle was in gyro control. REACQ(2,1,2) at 09:44:49 failed, primary GSACQ(2,1,2) at 08:13:58 was successful. Further information after engineering recorder dump.



                                  SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                       07                     07
FGS REacq                       08                     07
OBAD with Maneuver  30                     30


SpaceRef staff editor.