Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4415

By SpaceRef Editor
August 1, 2007
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4415

Notice: Due to the conversion of some ACS WFC or HRC observations into WFPC2, or NICMOS observations after the loss of ACS CCD science capability in January, there may be an occasional discrepancy between a proposal’s listed (and correct) instrument usage and the abstract that follows it.


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT July 30, 2007 (DOY 211)


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 DARKs. 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 11081

RR Lyrae stars in M31 Globular Clusters: How did the M31 Spiral Galaxy Form?

The pulsation properties of the RR Lyrae stars in the globular clusters of the Andromeda galaxy {M31} have the potential to provide essential insight on the first epoch of the galaxy formation and to trace the merging episodes that led to the assembly of M31. Their mean periods along with the cluster metallicities can provide an independent estimate of the M31 cluster ages and, in turn, of the time scale of the M31 halo formation, by comparison with their Milky Way counterparts. We will observe RR Lyrae stars in 6 appropriately selected globular clusters of M31 using WFPC2 to derive periods, light curves, and physical parameters of these eyewitnesses of the first epochs of the M31 formation.

ACS/SBC 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.

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/NIC3 11188

First Resolved Imaging of Escaping Lyman Continuum

The emission from star-forming galaxies appears to be responsible for reionization of the universe at z>6. However, the models that attempt to describe the detailed impact of high- redshift galaxies on the surrounding inter-galactic medium {IGM} are strongly dependent upon several uncertain parameters. Perhaps the most uncertain is the fraction of HI-ionizing photons produced by young stars which escape into the IGM. Most attempts to measure this “escape fraction” {f_esc} have produced null results. Recently, a small subset of z~3 Lyman Break Galaxies {LBGs} has been found exhibiting large escape fractions. It remains unclear however, what differentiates them from other LBGs. Several models attempt to explain how such a large fraction of ionizing continuum can escape through the HI and dust in the ISM {eg. “chimneys” created by SNe winds, globular cluster formation, etc.}, each producing unique signatures which can be observed with resolved imaging of the escaping Lyman continuum. We propose a deep, high resolution WFPC2 image of the ionizing continuum {F336W} and the rest-frame 1500 Angstrom continuum {F606W} of five of the six known LBGs with large escape fractions. These LBGs all fit within a single WFPC2 pointing, yielding high observing efficiency. Additionally, they all have z~3.1 or higher, the optimal redshift range for probing the Lyman Continuum region with available WFPC2 filters. These factors make our proposed sample especially suitable for follow- up. With these data we will discern the mechanisms responsible for producing large escape fractions, and therefore gain insight into the process of reionization.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                       SCHEDULED SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                    04         04
FGS REacq                    11         11
OBAD with Maneuver      30         30



The FGS-2R TRT test #15 was successfully completed today at 207/16:26z. Analysis and results will be presented at the next GSAWG meeting.

SpaceRef staff editor.