Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4641

By SpaceRef Editor
July 2, 2008
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: 5am June 26 – 5am June 27, 2008 (DOY 178/0900z-179/0900z)


NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8795

NICMOS Post-SAA Calibration – CR Persistence Part 6

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 11237

The Origin of the Break in the AGN Luminosity Function

We propose to use NICMOS imaging to measure rest-frame optical luminosities and morphological properties of a complete sample of faint AGN host galaxies at redshifts z ~ 1.4. The targets are drawn from the VLT-VIMOS Deep Survey, and they constitute a sample of the lowest luminosity type 1 AGN known at z > 1. The spectroscopically estimated black hole masses are up to an order of magnitude higher than expected given their nuclear luminosities, implying highly sub-Eddington accretion rates. This exactly matches the prediction made by recent theoretical models of AGN evolution, according to which the faint end of the AGN luminosity function is populated mainly by big black holes that have already exhausted a good part of their fuel. In this proposal we want to test further predictions of that hypothesis, by focussing on the host galaxy properties of our low-luminosity, low- accretion AGN. If the local ratio between black hole and bulge masses holds at least approximately at these redshifts, one expects most of these low-luminosity AGN to reside in fairly big ellipticals with stellar masses around and above 10^11 solar masses (in contrast to the Seyfert phenomenon in the local universe). With NICMOS imaging we will find out whether that is true, implying also a sensitive test for the validity of the M_BH/M_bulge relation at z ~ 1.4.

WFPC2 11206

At the Cradle of the Milky Way: Formation of the Most Massive Field Disk Galaxies at z>1

We propose to obtain 2 orbit WFPC2 F814W images of a sample of the 15 most massive galaxies found at $1 < z < 1.3$. These were culled from over 20,000 Keck spectra collected as part of DEEP and are unique among high redshift massive galaxy samples in being kinematically selected. Through a recent HST NICMOS-2 imaging program {GO-10532}, we have confirmed that these galaxies have regular stellar disks, and their emission line kinematics are not due to gradients from merging components. These potentially very young galaxies are likely precursors to massive local disks, assuming no further merging. The proposed WFPC2 and existing NIC-2 data provide colors, stellar masses, and ages of bulge and disk subcomponents, to assess whether old stellar bulges and disks are in place at that time or still being built, and constrain their formation epochs. Finally, this sample will yield the first statistically significant results on the $z > 1$ evolution of the size-velocity-luminosity scaling relations, for massive galaxies at different wavelengths, and constrain whether this evolution reflects stellar mass growth, or passive evolution, of either bulge or disk components.

WFPC2 11235

HST NICMOS Survey of the Nuclear Regions of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe

At luminosities above 10^11.4 L_sun, the space density of far-infrared selected galaxies exceeds that of optically selected galaxies. These `luminous infrared galaxies’ {LIRGs} are primarily interacting or merging disk galaxies undergoing enhanced star formation and Active Galactic Nuclei {AGN} activity, possibly triggered as the objects transform into massive S0 and elliptical merger remnants. We propose NICMOS NIC2 imaging of the nuclear regions of a complete sample of 88 L_IR > 10^11.4 L_sun luminous infrared galaxies in the IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample {RBGS: i.e., 60 micron flux density > 5.24 Jy}. This sample is ideal not only in its completeness and sample size, but also in the proximity and brightness of the galaxies. The superb sensitivity and resolution of NICMOS NIC2 on HST enables a unique opportunity to study the detailed structure of the nuclear regions, where dust obscuration may mask star clusters, AGN and additional nuclei from optical view, with a resolution significantly higher than possible with Spitzer IRAC. This survey thus provides a crucial component to our study of the dynamics and evolution of IR galaxies presently underway with Wide-Field, HST ACS/WFC and Spitzer IRAC observations of these 88 galaxies. Imaging will be done with the F160W filter {H-band} to examine as a function of both luminosity and merger stage {i} the luminosity and distribution of embedded star clusters, {ii} the presence of optically obscured AGN and nuclei, {iii} the correlation between the distribution of 1.6 micron emission and the mid- IR emission as detected by Spitzer IRAC, {iv} the evidence of bars or bridges that may funnel fuel into the nuclear region, and {v} the ages of star clusters for which photometry is available via ACS/WFC observations. The NICMOS data, combined with the HST ACS, Spitzer, and GALEX observations of this sample, will result in the most comprehensive study of merging and interacting galaxies to date.

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.


Building on the Significant NICMOS Investment in GOODS: A Bright, Wide-Area Search for z>=7 Galaxies

One of the most exciting frontiers in observational cosmology has been to trace the buildup and evolution of galaxies from very early times. While hierarchical theory teaches us that the star formation rate in galaxies likely starts out small and builds up gradually, only recently has it been possible to see evidence for this observationally through the evolution of the LF from z~6 to z~3. Establishing that this build up occurs from even earlier times {z~7-8} has been difficult, however, due to the small size of current high-redshift z~7-8 samples — now numbering in the range of ~4-10 sources. Expanding the size of these samples is absolutely essential, if we are to push current studies of galaxy buildup back to even earlier times. Fortunately, we should soon be able to do so, thanks to ~50 arcmin**2 of deep {26.9 AB mag at 5 sigma} NICMOS 1.6 micron data that will be available over the two ACS GOODS fields as a result of one recent 180- orbit ACS backup program and a smaller program. These data will nearly triple the deep near-IR imaging currently available and represent a significant resource for finding and characterizing the brightest high-redshift sources — since high-redshift candidates can be easily identified in these data from their red z-H colours. Unfortunately, the red z-H colours of these candidates are not sufficient to determine that these sources are at z>=7, and it is important also to have deep photometry at 1.1 microns. To obtain this crucial information, we propose to follow up each of these z-H dropouts with NICMOS at 1.1 microns to determine which are at high redshift and thus significantly expand our sample of luminous, z>=7 galaxies. Since preliminary studies indicate that these candidates occur in only 30% of the NIC3 fields, our follow-up strategy is ~3 times as efficient as without this preselection and 9 times as efficient as a search in a field with no pre-existing data. In total, we expect to identify ~8 luminous z-dropouts and possibly ~2 z~10 J-dropouts as a result of this program, more than tripling the number currently known. The increased sample sizes are important if we are to solidify current conclusions about galaxy buildup and the evolution of the LF from z~8. In addition to the high redshift science, these deep 1.1 micron data would have significant value for many diverse endeavors, including {1} improving our constraints on the stellar mass density at z~7-10 and {2} doubling the number of galaxies at z~6 for which we can estimate dust obscuration.


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


11356 – GSAcq (2,0,2) failed to RGA Hold

At Acquisition of Signal, 178/09:48:55, GSAcq (2,0,2) scheduled from 178/09:25:51 – 09:31:21 had failed to RGA Hold. This was due to QF2STOPF flag on FGS 2. No other ESB messages were noted. OBAD #1 & #2 data is unavailable due to loss of signal. OBAD MAP: V1 -12.70, V2 -6.40, V3 -0.32, RSS 14.22 arc seconds. Awaiting engineering data dump for further analysis.

Possible observations affected: NICMOS Proposal 11235, Observation Numbers 171 & 172

11358 – GSACQ(2,1,2) failed, scan step limit exceeded on FGS 2

GSACQ(2,1,2) at 178/14:24:40 failed due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS 2 at 14:28:37. No ESB messages were received, #44 commands did not update from their values prior to LOS.

Observations affected: WFPC 126 to 129, Proposal number 11206

11359 – REacq(1,2,1) failed to RGA Hold

During LOS REacq(1,2,2) scheduled at 178/2040:03 – 20:47:22 failed toRGA hold. At AOS (21:51:08) stop flags QF1STOPF and QSTOP were set for FGS 1. Also during LOS we received an ESB 1805 “FHST moving target det”.

Observations affected: NIC 176 Proposal ID#11237

The REacq(1,2,2) scheduled at 22:15:57 also failed to RGA hold. Stop flags QF1STOPF and QSTOP were set for FGS 1.

OBAD1 showed errors of V1=1261.02, V2=-1096.80, V3=-745.72 and RSS= 1830.10. OBAD2 showed errors of V1=-9.69, V2=-8.90, V3=15.49.

Observations affected: NIC 177 Proposal ID#08795 and NIC 178 Proposal ID#11237

REacq(1,2,2) at 23:51:52 also failed with stop flags on FGS 1. Observations affected: NIC 179 Proposal ID#08795, NIC 180 Proposal ID#11237



                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq               05                  03
FGS REacq               10                  07
OBAD with Maneuver      30                  30


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