Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4340

By SpaceRef Editor
April 17, 2007
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4340

Notice: For the foreseeable future, the daily reports may contain apparent discrepancies between some proposal descriptions and the listed instrument usage. This is due to the conversion of previously approved ACS WFC or HRC observations into WFPC2, or NICMOS observations subsequent to the loss of ACS CCD science capability in late January.


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT April 12, 2007 (DOY 102)


WFPC2 10166

ACS and WFPC2 Stellar Photometry in the Kepler Mission Target Field We will observe three regions at the Galactic Equator {GE} to determine the number of stars in the magnitude range from 18 to 25 in the target field of the NASA Kepler mission. This mission will search for Earth-size planets orbiting other stars. The field is a twelve by twelve degree square in Cygnus. It abuts the GE. The detection technique is to search photometrically for planetary transits. Faint eclipsing binaries that are not spatially resolved from the target star by Kepler may cause confusion, leading to false positive detections. The HST is uniquely capable of determining the potential magnitude of the issue in the region of the GE, where stellar densities are extremely high.

NIC2 10858

NICMOS Imaging of the z ~ 2 Spitzer Spectroscopic Sample of Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies

We propose to obtain NICMOS images of the first large sample of high-z ultra-luminous infrared galaxies {ULIRGs} whose redshifts and physical states have been determined with Spitzer mid-IR spectra. The detection of strong silicate absorption and/or PAH emission lines suggest that the these sources are a mixture of highly obscured starbursts, AGNs and composite systems at z=2. Although some of the spectra show PAH emission similar to local starburst ULIRGs, their bolometric luminosities are roughly an order of magnitude higher. One important question is if major mergers, which are the trigger for 95% of local ULIRGs, also drive this enormous energy output observed in our z=2 sample. The NICMOS images will allow us to {1} measure surface brightness profiles of z~2 ULIRGs and establish if major mergers could be common among our luminous sources at these early epochs, {2} determine if starbursts and AGNs classified based on their mid-IR spetra would have different morphological signatures, thus different dynamic state; {3} make comparisons with the similar studies of ULIRGs at z ~ 0 – 1, thus infer any evolutionary connections between high-z ULIRGs and the formation of normal, massive galaxies and quasars observed today.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8795

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 6

A new proceedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and everytime 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.

NIC3 11082

NICMOS Imaging of GOODS: Probing the Evolution of the Earliest Massive Galaxies, Galaxies Beyond Reionization, and the High Redshift Obscured Universe

Deep near-infrared imaging provides the only avenue towards understanding a host of astrophysical problems, including: finding galaxies and AGN at z > 7, the evolution of the most massive galaxies, the triggering of star formation in dusty galaxies, and revealing properties of obscured AGN. As such, we propose to observe 60 selected areas of the GOODS North and South fields with NICMOS Camera 3 in the F160W band pointed at known massive M > 10^11 M_0 galaxies at z > 2 discovered through deep Spitzer imaging. The depth we will reach {26.5 AB at 5 sigma} in H_160 allows us to study the internal properties of these galaxies, including their sizes and morphologies, and to understand how scaling relations such as the Kormendy relationship evolved. Although NIC3 is out of focus and undersampled, it is currently our best opportunity to study these galaxies, while also sampling enough area to perform a general NIR survey 1/3 the size of an ACS GOODS field. These data will be a significant resource, invaluable for many other science goals, including discovering high redshift galaxies at z > 7, the evolution of galaxies onto the Hubble sequence, as well as examining obscured AGN and dusty star formation at z > 1.5. The GOODS fields are the natural location for HST to perform a deep NICMOS imaging program, as extensive data from space and ground based observatories such as Chandra, GALEX, Spitzer, NOAO, Keck, Subaru, VLT, JCMT, and the VLA are currently available for these regions. Deep high-resolution near-infrared observations are the one missing ingredient to this survey, filling in an important gap to create the deepest, largest, and most uniform data set for studying the faint and distant universe. The importance of these images will increase with time as new facilities come on line, most notably WFC3 and ALMA, and for the planning of future JWST observations.

WFPC2 10890

Morphologies of the Most Extreme High-Redshift Mid-IR-Luminous Galaxies

The formative phase of the most massive galaxies may be extremely luminous, characterized by intense star- and AGN-formation. Till now, few such galaxies have been unambiguously identified at high redshift, restricting us to the study of low-redshift ultraluminous infrared galaxies as possible analogs. We have recently discovered a sample of objects which may indeed represent this early phase in galaxy formation, and are undertaking an extensive multiwavelength study of this population. These objects are bright at mid-IR wavelengths {F[24um]>0.8mJy}, but deep ground based imaging suggests extremely faint {and in some cases extended} optical counterparts {R~24-27}. Deep K-band images show barely resolved galaxies. Mid-infrared spectroscopy with Spitzer/IRS reveals that they have redshifts z ~ 2-2.5, suggesting bolometric luminosities ~10^{13-14}Lsun! We propose to obtain deep ACS F814W and NIC2 F160W images of these sources and their environs in order to determine kpc-scale morphologies and surface photometry for these galaxies. The proposed observations will help us determine whether these extreme objects are merging systems, massive obscured starbursts {with obscuration on kpc scales!} or very reddened {locally obscured} AGN hosted by intrinsically low-luminosity galaxies.

WFPC2 11083

The Structure, Formation and Evolution of Galactic Cores and Nuclei

A surprising result has emerged from the ACS Virgo Cluster Survey {ACSVCS}, a program to obtain ACS/WFC gz imaging for a large, unbiased sample of 100 early-type galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. On subarcsecond scales {i.e., <0.1"-1"}, the HST brightness profiles vary systematically from the brightest giants {which have nearly constant surface brightness cores} to the faintest dwarfs {which have compact stellar nuclei}. Remarkably, the fraction of galaxy mass contributed by the nuclei in the faint galaxies is identical to that contributed by supermassive black holes in the bright galaxies {0.2%}. These findings strongly suggest that a single mechanism is responsible for both types of Central Massive Object: most likely internally or externally modulated gas inflows that feed central black holes or lead to the formation of "nuclear star clusters". Understanding the history of gas accretion, star formation and chemical enrichment on subarcsecond scales has thus emerged as the single most pressing question in the study of nearby galactic nuclei, either active or quiescent. We propose an ambitious HST program {199 orbits} that constitutes the next, obvious step forward: high-resolution, ultraviolet {WFPC2/F255W} and infrared {NIC1/F160W} imaging for the complete ACSVCS sample. By capitalizing on HST's unique ability to provide high-resolution images with a sharp and stable PSF at UV and IR wavelengths, we will leverage the existing optical HST data to obtain the most complete picture currently possible for the history of star formation and chemical enrichment on these small scales. Equally important, this program will lead to a significant improvement in the measured structural parameters and density distributions for the stellar nuclei and the underlying galaxies, and provide a sensitive measure of "frosting" by young stars in the galaxy cores. By virtue of its superb image quality and stable PSF, NICMOS is the sole instrument capable of the IR observations proposed here. In the case of the WFPC2 observations, high-resolution UV imaging {< 0.1"} is a capability unique to HST, yet one that could be lost at any any time.


Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.) HSTARS: (None)



                      SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL 
FGS GSacq               08                08 
FGS REacq               05                05 
OBAD with Maneuver      26                26 


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