Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4397

By SpaceRef Editor
July 5, 2007
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4397

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.

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT # 4397 – Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT June 03, 04, 2007 (DOY 184, 185)


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=3Ddate/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.

WFPC2 11292

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 essentially 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 Hubble astrometry, the details of the variations will become much clearer.

WFPC2 11289

SL2S: The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey

Recent systematic surveys of strong galaxy-galaxy lenses {CLASS, SLACS, GOODS, etc.} are producing spectacular results for galaxy masses roughly below a transition mass M~10^13 Mo. The observed lens properties and their evolution up to z~0.2, consistent with numerical simulations, can be described by isothermal elliptical potentials. In contrast, modeling of giant arcs in X-ray luminous clusters {halo masses M >~10^13 Mo} favors NFW mass profiles, suggesting that dark matter halos are not significantly affected by baryon cooling. Until recently, lensing surveys were neither deep nor extended enough to probe the intermediate mass density regime, which is fundamental for understanding the assembly of structures. The CFHT Legacy Survey now covers 125 square degrees, and thus offers a large reservoir of strong lenses probing a large range of mass densities up to z~1. We have extracted a list of 150 strong lenses using the most recent CFHTLS data release via automated procedures. Following our first SNAPSHOT proposal in cycle 15, we propose to continue the Hubble follow-up targeting a larger list of 130 lensing candidates. These are intermediate mass range candidates {between galaxies and clusters} that are selected in the redshift range of 0.2-1 with no a priori X-ray selection. The HST resolution is necessary for confirming the lensing candidates, accurate modeling of the lenses, and probing the total mass concentration in galaxy groups up to z~1 with the largest unbiased sample available to date.

ACS/SBC 11225

The Wavelength Dependence of Accretion Disk Structure

We can now routinely measure the size of quasar accretion disks using gravitational microlensing of lensed quasars. The next step to testing accretion disk models is to measure the size of accretion disks as a function of wavelength, particularly at the UV and X-ray wavelengths that should probe the inner, strong gravity regime. Here we focus on two four-image quasar lenses that already have optical {R band} and X-ray size measurements using microlensing. We will combine the HST observations with ground-based monitoring to measure the disk size as a function of wavelength from the near-IR to the UV. We require HST to measure the image flux ratios in the ultraviolet continuum near the Lyman limit of the quasars. The selected targets have estimated black hole masses that differ by an order of magnitude, and we should find wavelength scaling for the two systems that are very different because the Blue/UV wavelengths should correspond to parts of the disk near the inner edge for the high mass system but not in the low mass system. The results will be modeled using a combination of simple thin disk models and complete relativistic disk models. While requiring only 18 orbits, success for one system requires observations in both Cycles 16 and 17.

FGS 11210

The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems

Are all planetary systems coplanar? Concordance cosmogony makes that prediction. It is, however, a prediction of extrasolar planetary system architecture as yet untested by direct observation for main sequence stars other than the Sun. To provide such a test, we propose to carry out FGS astrometric studies on four stars hosting seven companions. Our understanding of the planet formation process will grow as we match not only system architecture, but formed planet mass and true distance from the primary with host star characteristics for a wide variety of host stars and exoplanet masses. We propose that a series of FGS astrometric observations with demonstrated 1 millisecond of arc per- observation precision can establish the degree of coplanarity and component true masses for four extrasolar systems: HD 202206 {brown dwarf+planet}; HD 128311 {planet+planet}, HD 160691 =3D mu Arae {planet+planet}, and HD 222404AB =3D gamma Cephei {planet+star}. In each case the companion is identified as such by assuming that the minimum mass is the actual mass. For the last target, a known stellar binary system, the companion orbit is stable only if coplanar with the AB binary orbit.

WFPC2 11175

UV Imaging to Determine the Location of Residual Star Formation in Galaxies Recently Arrived on the Red Sequence

We have identified a sample of low-redshift {z =3D 0.04 – 0.10} galaxies that are candidates for recent arrival on the red sequence. They have red optical colors indicative of old stellar populations, but blue UV-optical colors that could indicate the presence of a small quantity of continuing or very recent star formation. However, their spectra lack the emission lines that characterize star-forming galaxies. We propose to use ACS/SBC to obtain high- resolution imaging of the UV flux in these galaxies, in order to determine the spatial distribution of the last episode of star formation. WFPC2 imaging will provide B, V, and I photometry to measure the main stellar light distribution of the galaxy for comparison with the UV imaging, as well as to measure color gradients and the distribution of interstellar dust. This detailed morphological information will allow us to investigate the hypothesis that these galaxies have recently stopped forming stars and to compare the observed distribution of the last star formation with predictions for several different mechanisms that may quench star formation in galaxies.

NIC2 11157

NICMOS Imaging Survey of Dusty Debris Around Nearby Stars Across the Stellar Mass Spectrum

Association of planetary systems with dusty debris disks is now quite secure, and advances in our understanding of planet formation and evolution can be achieved by the identification and characterization of an ensemble of debris disks orbiting a range of central stars with different masses and ages. Imaging debris disks in starlight scattered by dust grains remains technically challenging so that only about a dozen systems have thus far been imaged. A further advance in this field needs an increased number of imaged debris disks. However, the technical challenge of such observations, even with the superb combination of HST and NICMOS, requires the best targets. Recent HST imaging investigations of debris disks were sample-limited not limited by the technology used. We performed a search for debris disks from a IRAS/Hipparcos cross correlation which involved an exhaustive background contamination check to weed out false excess stars. Out of ~140 identified debris disks, we selected 22 best targets in terms of dust optical depth and disk angular size. Our target sample represents the best currently available target set in terms of both disk brightness and resolvability. For example, our targets have higher dust optical depth, in general, than newly identified Spitzer disks. Also, our targets cover a wider range of central star ages and masses than previous debris disk surveys. This will help us to investigate planetary system formation and evolution across the stellar mass spectrum. The technical feasibility of this program in two-gyro mode guiding has been proven with on- orbit calibration and science observations during HST cycles 13, 14, and 15.

NIC2 11101

The Relevance of Mergers for Fueling AGNs: Answers from QSO Host Galaxies

The majority of QSOs are known to reside in centers of galaxies that look like ellipticals. Numerical simulations have shown that remnants of galaxy mergers often closely resemble elliptical galaxies. However, it is still strongly debated whether the majority of QSO host galaxies are indeed the result of relatively recent mergers or whether they are completely analogous to inactive ellipticals to which nothing interesting has happened recently. To address this question, we recently obtained deep HST ACS images for five QSO host galaxies that were classified morphologically as ellipticals {GO-10421}. This pilot study revealed striking signs of tidal interactions such as ripples, tidal tails, and warped disks that were not detected in previous studies. Our observations show that at least some “elliptical” QSO host galaxies are the products of relatively recent merger events rather than old galaxies formed at high redshift. However, the question remains whether the host galaxies of classical QSOs are truly distinct from inactive ellipticals and whether there is a connection between the merger events we detect and the current nuclear activity. We must therefore place our results into a larger statistical context. We are currently conducting an HST archival study of inactive elliptical galaxies {AR-10941} to form a control sample. We now propose to obtain deep HST/WFPC2 images of 13 QSOs whose host galaxies are classified as normal ellipticals. Comparing the results for both samples will help us determine whether classical QSOs reside in normal elliptical galaxies or not. Our recent pilot study of five QSOs indicates that we can expect exciting results and deep insights into the host galaxy morphology also for this larger sample of QSOs. A statistically meaningful sample will help us determine the true fraction of QSO hosts that suffered strong tidal interactions and thus, whether a merger is indeed a requirement to trigger nuclear activity in the most luminous AGNs. In addition to our primary science observations with WFPC2, we will obtain NICMOS3 parallel observations with the overall goal to select and characterize galaxy populations at high redshifts. The imaging will be among the deepest NICMOS images: These NICMOS images are expected to go to a limit a little over 1 magnitude brighter than HUDF-NICMOS data, but over 13 widely separated fields, with a total area about 1.5 times larger than HUDF-NICMOS. This separation means that the survey will tend to average out effects of cosmic variance. The NICMOS3 images will have sufficient resolution for an initial characterization of galaxy morphologies, which is currently one of the most active and promising areas in approaching the problem of the formation of the first massive galaxies. The depth and area coverage of our proposed NICMOS observations will also allow a careful study of the mass function of galaxies at these redshifts. This provides a large and unbiased sample, selected in terms of stellar mass and unaffected by cosmic variance, to study the on-going star formation activity as a function of mass {i.e. integrated star formation} at this very important epoch.

WFPC2 11079

Treasury Imaging of Star Forming Regions in the Local Group: Complementing the GALEX and NOAO Surveys

We propose to use WFPC2 to image the most interesting star-forming regions in the Local Group galaxies, to resolve their young stellar populations. We will use a set of filters including F170W, which is critical to detect and characterize the most massive stars, to whose hot temperatures colors at longer wavelengths are not sensitive. WFPC2’s field of view ideally matches the typical size of the star-forming regions, and its spatial resolution allows us to measure individual stars, given the proximity of these galaxies. The resulting H- R diagrams will enable studies of star-formation properties in these regions, which cover largely differing metallicities {a factor of 17, compared to the factor of 4 explored so far} and characteristics. The results will further our understanding of the star-formation process, of the interplay between massive stars and environment, the properties of dust, and will provide the key to interpret integrated measurements of star-formation indicators {UV, IR, Halpha} available for several hundreds more distant galaxies. Our recent deep surveys of these galaxies with GALEX {FUV, NUV} and ground-based imaging {UBVRI, Halpha, [OIII] and [SII]} provided the identification of the most relevant SF sites. In addition to our scientific analysis, we will provide catalogs of HST photometry in 6 bands, matched corollary ground-based data, and UV, Halpha and IR integrated measurements of the associations, for comparison of integrated star-formation indices to the resolved populations. We envisage an EPO component.

NIC1 11063

NICMOS Focus Monitoring

This program is a version of the standard focus sweep used since cycle 7. It has been modified to go deeper and uses more narrow filters for improved focus determination. For Cycle14 a new source has been added in order to accommodate 2-gyro mode: the open cluster NGC1850. The old target, the open cluster NGC3603, will be used whenever available and the new target used to fill the periods when NGC3603 is not visible. Steps: a} Use refined target field positions as determined from cycle 7 calibrations b} Use MULTIACCUM sequences of sufficient dynamic range to account for defocus c} Do a 17- point focus sweep, +/- 8mm about the PAM mechanical zeropoint for each cameras 1 and 2, in 1.0mm steps. d} Use PAM X/Y tilt and OTA offset slew compensations refined from previous focus monitoring/optical alignment activities

NIC3 11062

NICMOS non-linearity tests

This program incorporates a number of tests to analyse the count rate dependent non- linearity seen in NICMOS spectro-photometric observations. We will observe a field with stars of a range in luminosity in NGC3603 with NICMOS in NIC1: F090M, F110W, F140W, F160W NIC2: F110W, F160W, F187W, F205W, and F222M NIC3: F110W, F150W, F160W, F175W, and F222M. We will repeat the observations with flatfield lamp on, creating artificially high count-rates, allowing tests of NICMOS linearity as function of count rate. We first take exposures with the lamp off, then exposures with the lamp on, and repeat at the end with lamp off. Finally, we continue with taking darks during occultation. We will furthermore observe spectro-photometric standard P041C using the G096, G141, and G206 grisms in NIC3, and repeat the lamp off/on/off test to artificially create a high background.

WFPC2 11029

WFPC2 CYCLE 15 Intflat Linearity Check and Filter Rotation Anomaly Monitor

Intflat observations will be taken to provide a linearity check: the linearity test consists of a series of intflats in F555W, in each gain and each shutter. A combination of intflats, visflats, and earthflats will be used to check the repeatability of filter wheel motions. {Intflat sequences tied to decons, visits 1-18 in prop 10363, have been moved to the cycle 15 decon proposal xxxx for easier scheduling.} Note: long-exposure WFPC2 intflats must be scheduled during ACS anneals to prevent stray light from the WFPC2 lamps from contaminating long ACS external exposures.

WFPC2 11028

WFPC2 Cycle 15 UV Earth Flats

Monitor flat field stability. This proposal obtains sequences of earth streak flats to improve the quality of pipeline flat fields for the WFPC2 UV filter set. These Earth flats will complement the UV earth flat data obtained during cycles 8-14.

WFPC2 10841

A Proper Motion Search for Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Globular Clusters {2nd Epoch Observations}

Establishing the presence or absence of intermediate-mass black holes {IMBH} in globular clusters is crucial for understanding the evolution of dense stellar systems. Observationally, this search has been hampered by the low number of stars with known velocities in the central few arcseconds. This limits our knowledge of the velocity dispersion in the region where the gravitational influence of any IMBH would be felt. In Cycle 13, we successfully obtained ACS/HRC images of the centers of five carefully chosen Galactic globular clusters {GO-10401} for a new proper motion study. Although the science case was approved and the first epoch images obtained, the requested future cycle observations were not granted {due to a general policy decision based on the strong uncertainties at the time concerning the immediate future of HST}. We have now assessed the quality of the first epoch observations. The HRC resolution reveals many isolated stars in to the very center of each cluster that remained blended or unresolved in previous WFPC2 data. Given a two year baseline, we are confident that we can achieve the proper motion precision required to place strict limits on the presence of an IMBH. Therefore, we request the second-epoch, follow-up observations to GO-10401 in order to measure the proper motions of stars in our target clusters. These velocity measurements will allow us to: {i} place constraints on the mass of a central black hole in each cluster; {ii} derive the internal velocity dispersion as a function of cluster radius; {iii} verify or reject previous reports of cluster rotation; and {iv} directly measure velocity anisotropy as a function of radius. If no second epoch data are obtained then the observing time already invested in the first epoch will have been wasted.

WFPC2 10787

Modes of Star Formation and Nuclear Activity in an Early Universe Laboratory

Nearby compact galaxy groups are uniquely suited to exploring the mechanisms of star formation amid repeated and ongoing gravitational encounters, conditions similar to those of the high redshift universe. These dense groups host a variety of modes of star formation, and they enable fresh insights into the role of gas in galaxy evolution. With Spitzer mid-IR observations in hand, we have begun to obtain high quality, multi-wavelength data for a well- defined sample of 12 nearby {<4500km/s} compact groups covering the full range of evolutionary stages. Here we propose to obtain sensitive BVI images with the ACS/WFC, deep enough to reach the turnover of the globular cluster luminosity function, and WFPC2 U-band and ACS H-alpha images of Spitzer-identified regions hosting the most recent star formation. In total, we expect to detect over 1000 young star clusters forming inside and outside galaxies, more than 4000 old globular clusters in >40 giant galaxies {including 16 early-type galaxies}, over 20 tidal features, approximately 15 AGNs, and intragroup gas in most of the 12 groups. Combining the proposed ACS images with Chandra observations, UV GALEX observations, ground-based H-alpha imaging, and HI data, we will conduct a detailed study of stellar nurseries, dust, gas kinematics, and AGN.


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

HSTARS: #10878 GSacq (1,2,1) failed to RGA control. GSacq(1,2,1) scheduled at 184/15:52:25 failed during LOS due to receiving a stop flag on FGS 2. OBAD1 at 15:47:26 showed errors of V1=3D-19.30, V2=3D1449.10, V3=3D-565.83, RSS=3D1555.77. OBAD2 showed errors of V1=3D13.76, = V2=3D5.33, V3=3D2.58, RSS=3D14.98

#10879 GSacq(1,3,3) failed to RGA control. GSacq(1,3,3) scheduled at 185/11:08:28 failed during LOS due to receiving a stop flag on FGS 1. The map at 11:15:27 showed errors of V1=3D-0.13, V2=3D3.33, V3=3D5.72, RSS=3D6.62.


                              SCHEDULED SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq                      16              14
FGS REacq                      12              12
OBAD with Maneuver             56              56



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