Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4648

By SpaceRef Editor
July 9, 2008
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am July 8 – 5am July 9, 2008 (DOY 190/0900z-191/0900z)


NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 11330

NICMOS Cycle 16 Extended Dark

This takes a series of Darks in parallel to other instruments.

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 i mages. 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 focusing 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.

NIC3 11331

NICMOS Cycle 16 Grism Calibration

A series of pointed NICMOS observations of the spectroscopic flux calibrator P330E and two wavelength calibrators VY2-2 and HB12.

S/C 11320

NICMOS Focus Monitoring Cycle 16

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. A new source was added in Cycle 14 in order to accommodate 2-gyro mode: the open cluster NGC1850. This source is part of the current proposal. 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. For NIC3 we step from -0.5mm to -9.5mm relative to mechanical zero, in steps of 1.0mm. d) Use PAM X/Y tilt and OTA offset slew compensations refined from previous focus monitoring/optical alignment activities

WEPC2 11196

An Ultraviolet Survey 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 starbursts and creating/fueling central AGN. We propose far {ACS/SBC/F140LP} and near {WFPC2/PC/F218W} UV imaging of a sample of 27 galaxies drawn from the complete IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample {RBGS} LIRGs sample and known, from our Cycle 14 B and I-band ACS imaging observations, to have significant numbers of bright {23 < B < 21 mag} star clusters in the central 30 arcsec. The HST UV data will be combined with previously obtained HST, Spitzer, and GALEX images to {i} calculate the ages of the clusters as function of merger stage, {ii} measure the amount of UV light in massive star clusters relative to diffuse regions of star formation, {iii} assess the feasibility of using the UV slope to predict the far-IR luminosity {and thus the star formation rate} both among and within IR-luminous galaxies, and {iv} provide a much needed catalog of rest- frame UV morphologies for comparison with rest-frame UV images of high-z LIRGs and Lyman Break Galaxies. These observations will achieve the resolution required to perform both detailed photometry of compact structures and spatial correlations between UV and redder wavelengths for a physical interpretation our IRX-Beta results. The HST UV data, combined with the HST ACS, Spitzer, Chandra, and GALEX observations of this sample, will result in the most comprehensive study of luminous starburst galaxies to date.

WFPC2 11103

A Snapshot Survey of The Most Massive Clusters of Galaxies

We propose the continuation of our highly successful SNAPshot survey of a sample of 125 very X-ray luminous clusters in the redshift range 0.3-0.7. As demonstrated by the 25 snapshots obtained so far in Cycle14 and Cycle15 these systems frequently exhibit strong gravitational lensing as well as spectacular examples of violent galaxy interactions. The proposed observations will provide important constraints on the cluster mass distributions, the physical nature of galaxy-galaxy and galaxy-gas interactions in cluster cores, and a set of optically bright, lensed galaxies for further 8-10m spectroscopy. All of our primary science goals require only the detection and characterization of high-surface-brightness features and are thus achievable even at the reduced sensitivity of WFPC2. Because of their high redshift and thus compact angular scale our target clusters are less adversely affected by the smaller field of view of WFPC2 than more nearby systems. Acknowledging the broad community interest in this sample we waive our data rights for these observations. Due to a clerical error at STScI our approved Cycle15 SNAP program was barred from execution for 3 months and only 6 observations have been performed to date – reinstating this SNAP at Cycle16 priority is of paramount importance to reach meaningful statistics.

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 11222

Direct Detection and Mapping of Star Forming Regions in Nearby, Luminous Quasars

We propose to carry out narrow-band emission line imaging observations of 8 quasars at z=0.05-0.15 with the WFPC2 ramp filters and with the NICMOS narrow-band filters. We will obtain images in the [O II], [O III], H-beta, and Pa-alpha emission line bands to carry out a series of diagnostic tests aimed at detecting and mapping out star-forming regions in the quasar host galaxies. This direct detection of star-forming regions will confirm indirect indications for star formation in quasar host galaxies. It will provide a crucial test for models of quasar and galaxy evolution, that predict the co-existence of starbursts and “monsters” and will solve the puzzle of why different indicators of star formation give contradictory results. A secondary science goal is to assess suggested correlations between quasar luminosity and the size of the narrow-line region.

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 11498

2008 Passage of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Oval BA

Jupiter’s largest anticyclonic storm, the Great Red Spot (GRS), drifts slowly westward relative to the radio rotation rate of the planet (System III W. longitude). In contrast, the next largest storm, Oval BA (a.k.a. the Little Red Spot or LRS), drifts slowly eastward. The relative drift of the two is approximately 0.5 deg/day, resulting in a passage of the storms every two years. The GRS sits at ~22 deg. S planetographic latitude, while the LRS resides at ~33 deg. S latitude. Both vortices deflect nearby eastward and westward winds jets around their periphery, and are somewhat confined to their latitude bands by the alternating, and nearly constant, zonal wind field. However, they do oscillate slightly in latitude, particularly near the times of a passage, in part because the deflected wind jets push to keep the spots separated. It is during these passages that the LRS, and its predecessor white ovals, is most likely to show changes in size and morphology, which are related to the internal wind fields and regulate the vertical cloud structure of the vortex. For example, GRS passages in 1998 and 2000 preceded the merger of the three white ovals into the single large Oval BA, after the ovals and intervening cyclonic cells were deflected by the GRS.

We propose to study the 2008 passage to look for changes in internal vortex winds, nearby zonal winds and vortex upper cloud structure, particularly in particle size and opacity, using five orbits of WFPC2 and two orbits of NICMOS. These data will be combined with a multitude of planned ground-based coverage to offer an unprecedented view of a GRS/Oval passage, which will give insight on cloud structure, dynamics, and possibly even water abundance below the cloud decks (water abundance governs the distance of interaction between the two spots). HST is required to provide adequate spatial resolution and wavelength coverage while observing the passage. The 2008 passage is expected to be especially important, as Jupiter underwent a global upheaval in 2007, with disturbances near the GRS and LRS. This upheaval began after the normal Cycle 16 proposal deadline, raising the priority of these observations enough to warrant a request for HST time.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                                  SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                           11                   11
FGS REacq                           4                     4
OBAD with Maneuver                  30                   30


SpaceRef staff editor.