Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4473

By SpaceRef Editor
October 24, 2007
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4473

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 October 22, 2007 (DOY 295)


NIC2 10798

Dark Halos and Substructure from Arcs & Einstein Rings

The surface brightness distribution of extended gravitationally lensed arcs and Einstein rings contains super-resolved information about the lensed object, and, more excitingly, about the smooth and clumpy mass distribution of the lens galaxies. The source and lens information can non-parametrically be separated, resulting in a direct “gravitational image” of the inner mass-distribution of cosmologically-distant galaxies {Koopmans 2005; Koopmans et al. 2006 [astro-ph/0601628]}. With this goal in mind, we propose deep HST ACS-F555W/F814W and NICMOS-F160W WFC imaging of 20 new gravitational-lens systems with spatially resolved lensed sources, of the 35 new lens systems discovered by the Sloan Lens ACS Survey {Bolton et al. 2005} so far, 15 of which are being imaged in Cycle-14. Each system has been selected from the SDSS and confirmed in two time- efficient HST-ACS snapshot programs {cycle 13&14}. High-fidelity multi-color HST images are required {not delivered by the 420s snapshots} to isolate these lensed images {properly cleaned, dithered and extinction-corrected} from the lens galaxy surface brightness distribution, and apply our “gravitational maging” technique. Our sample of 35 early-type lens galaxies to date is by far the largest, still growing, and most uniformly selected. This minimizes selection biases and small-number statistics, compared to smaller, often serendipitously discovered, samples. Moreover, using the WFC provides information on the field around the lens, higher S/N and a better understood PSF, compared with the HRC, and one retains high spatial resolution through drizzling. The sample of galaxy mass distributions – determined through this method from the arcs and Einstein ring HST images – will be studied to: {i} measure the smooth mass distribution of the lens galaxies {dark and luminous mass are separated using the HST images and the stellar M/L values derived from a joint stellar-dynamical analysis of each system}; {ii} quantify statistically and individually the incidence of mass-substructure {with or without obvious luminous counter- parts such as dwarf galaxies}. Since dark-matter substructure could be more prevalent at higher redshift, both results provide a direct test of this prediction of the CDM hierarchical structure-formation model.

WFPC2 11024


This calibration proposal is the Cycle 15 routine internal monitor for WFPC2, to be run weekly to monitor the health of the cameras. A variety of internal exposures are obtained in order to provide a monitor of the integrity of the CCD camera electronics in both bays {both gain 7 and gain 15 — to test stability of gains and bias levels}, a test for quantum efficiency in the CCDs, and a monitor for possible buildup of contaminants on the CCD windows. These also provide raw data for generating annual super-bias reference files for the calibration pipeline.

FGS 11211

An Astrometric Calibration of Population II Distance Indicators

In 2002 HST produced a highly precise parallax for RR Lyrae. That measurement resulted in an absolute magnitude, M{V}=3D 0.61+/-0.11, a useful result, judged by the over ten refereed citations each year since. It is, however, unsatisfactory to have the direct, parallax-based, distance scale of Population II variables based on a single star. We propose, therefore, to obtain the parallaxes of four additional RR Lyrae stars and two Population II Cepheids, or W Vir stars. The Population II Cepheids lie with the RR Lyrae stars on a common K-band Period-Luminosity relation. Using these parallaxes to inform that relationship, we anticipate a zero-point error of 0.04 magnitude. This result should greatly strengthen confidence in the Population II distance scale and increase our understanding of RR Lyrae star and Pop II Cepheid astrophysics.

NIC2 11197

Sweeping Away the Dust: Reliable Dark Energy with an Infrared Hubble Diagram

We propose building a high-z Hubble Diagram using type Ia supernovae observed in the infrared rest-frame J-band. The infrared has a number of exceptional properties. The effect of dust extinction is minimal, reducing a major systematic that may be biasing dark energy measurements. Also, recent work indicates that type Ia supernovae are true standard candles in the infrared meaning that our Hubble diagram will be resistant to possible evolution in the Phillip’s relation over cosmic time. High signal-to-noise measurements of 16 type Ia events at z~0.4 will be compared with an independent optical Hubble diagram from the ESSENCE project to test for a shift in the derived dark energy equation of state due to a systematic bias. In Cycle 15 we obtained NICMOS photometry of 8 ESSENCE supernovae and are awaiting template observations to place them on the IR Hubble diagram. Here we request another 8 supernovae be studied in the final season of the ESSENCE search. Because of the bright sky background, H-band photometry of z~0.4 supernovae is not feasible from the ground. Only the superb image quality and dark infrared sky seen by HST makes this test possible. This experiment may also lead to a better, more reliable way of mapping the expansion history of the universe with the Joint Dark Energy Mission.

WFPC2 11022

WFPC2 Cycle 15 Decontaminations and Associated Observations

This proposal is for the WFPC2 decons. Also included are instrument monitors tied to decons: photometric stability check, focus monitor, pre- and post-decon internals {bias, intflats, kspots, & darks}, UV throughput check, VISFLAT sweep, and internal UV flat check.

WFPC2 11070

WFPC2 CYCLE 15 Standard Darks – part II

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 11130

AGNs with Intermediate-mass Black Holes: Testing the Black Hole-Bulge Paradigm, Part II

The recent progress in the study of central black holes in galactic nuclei has led to a general consensus that supermassive {10^6-10^9 solar mass} black holes are closely connected with the formation and evolutionary history of large galaxies, especially their bulge component. Two outstanding issues, however, remain unresolved. Can central black holes form in the absence of a bulge? And does the mass function of central black holes extend below 10^6 solar masses? Intermediate-mass black holes {<10^6 solar masses}, if they exist, may offer important clues to the nature of the seeds of supermassive black holes. Using the SDSS, our group has successfully uncovered a new population of AGNs with intermediate-mass black holes that reside in low-luminosity galaxies. However, very little is known about the detailed morphologies or structural parameters of the host galaxies themselves, including the crucial question of whether they have bulges or not. Surprisingly, the majority of the targets of our Cycle 14 pilot program have structural properties similar to dwarf elliptical galaxies. The statistics from this initial study, however, are really too sparse to reach definitive conclusions on this important new class of black holes. We wish to extend this study to a larger sample, by using the Snapshot mode to obtain WFPC2 F814W images from a parent sample of 175 AGNs with intermediate-mass black holes selected from our final SDSS search. We are particularly keen to determine whether the hosts contain bulges, and if so, how the fundamental plane properties of the host depend on the mass of their central black holes. We will also investigate the environment of this unique class of AGNs.

WFPC2 11178

Probing Solar System History with Orbits, Masses, and Colors of Transneptunian Binaries

The recent discovery of numerous transneptunian binaries {TNBs} opens a window into dynamical conditions in the protoplanetary disk where they formed as well as the history of subsequent events which sculpted the outer Solar System and emplaced them onto their present day heliocentric orbits. To date, at least 47 TNBs have been discovered, but only about a dozen have had their mutual orbits and separate colors determined, frustrating their use to investigate numerous important scientific questions. The current shortage of data especially cripples scientific investigations requiring statistical comparisons among the ensemble characteristics. We propose to obtain sufficient astrometry and photometry of 23 TNBs to compute their mutual orbits and system masses and to determine separate primary and secondary colors, roughly tripling the sample for which this information is known, as well as extending it to include systems of two near-equal size bodies. To make the most efficient possible use of HST, we will use a Monte Carlo technique to optimally schedule our observations.

WFPC2 11194

Beyond the Bullet: Direct Detection of Dark Matter in Merging Galaxy Clusters

Our comparison of the distribution of baryons {stars and gas} and mass {from weak lensing} in the “Bullet” Cluster has recently yielded concrete evidence for dark matter independent of basic assumptions regarding the nature of the gravitational force. The one incomplete aspect of the argument relates to potential, although highly unlikely, coincidences {special alignments along the line of sight, and/or fortuitous canceling in non- standard gravitational models} that can always be invoked against results derived from the study of one object. Therefore, we propose to complete this line of investigations by increasing the size of our sample with observations of an additional cluster. Here we propose to obtain HST WFPC2 imaging mosaics around the cores of the cluster to detect at high significance if the weak gravitational lensing mass peaks are routinely displaced from the X-ray plasma clouds and aligned with the galaxy concentrations in interacting clusters. With a relatively modest allocation of time, we seek to complete a significant step toward the eventual resolution of the dark matter question.


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

HSTARS: 11034 – Guide Star Acquisition Failure GSacq1,3,3 at 296/00:00:00 failed due to stop flag on FGS 1. The failure occurred during LOS. Observations affected include WFPC 70,71,72,73.

Two OBADs before the GSacq were successful with errors of:

OC1,3: V1 112.61; V2 -463.47; V3 148.48; RSS 499.53
OC1,2 : V1 3.73; V2 6.40; V3 -5.80 ; RSS 9.41

The map after the failed guide star acq showed errors of:
V1 -3.25; V2 -7>11; V3 11.57; RSS 13.96



                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL 
FGS GSacq                10                  09
FGS REacq                04                  04
OBAD with Maneuver       28                  28


SpaceRef staff editor.