Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4685

By SpaceRef Editor
August 29, 2008
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am August 28 – 5am August 29, 2008 (DOY 241/0900z-242/0900z)


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 = mu Arae {planet+planet}, and HD 222404AB = 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.

NIC1 11205

The Effects of Multiplicity on the Evolution of Young Stellar Objects: A NICMOS Imaging Study

We propose to use NICMOS to investigate the multiplicity of young stellar objects (YSOs) in the Orion B molecular cloud. Previous observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed a remarkable star forming filament near the NGC 2068 reflection nebula. The population of YSOs associated with the filament exhibit a surprisingly wide range of circumstellar evolutionary states, from deeply embedded protostars to T Tauri accretion disks. Many of the circumstellar disks themselves show evidence for significant dust evolution, including grain growth and settling and cleared inner holes, apparently in spite of the very young age of these stars. We will estimate the binary fraction of a representative sample of objects in these various stages of evolution in order to test whether companions may play a significant role in that evolution.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 11820

NICMOS Post-SAA Calibration – CR Persistence Part 7

Internals for CR persistence

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.

NIC2 11548

NICMOS Imaging of Protostars in the Orion A Cloud: The Role of Environment in Star Formation

We propose NICMOS observations of a sample of 252 protostars identified in the Orion A cloud with the Spitzer Space Telescope. These observations will image the scattered light escaping the protostellar envelopes, providing information on the shapes of outflow cavities, the inclinations of the protostars, and the overall morphologies of the envelopes. In addition, we ask for Spitzer time to obtain 55-95 micron spectra of 75 of the protostars. Combining these new data with existing 3.6 to 70 micron photometry and forthcoming 5-40 micron spectra measured with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we will determine the physical properties of the protostars such as envelope density, luminosity, infall rate, and outflow cavity opening angle. By examining how these properties vary with stellar density (i.e. clusters vs groups vs isolation) and the properties of the surrounding molecular cloud; we can directly measure how the surrounding environment influences protostellar evolution, and consequently, the formation of stars and planetary systems. Ultimately, this data will guide the development of a theory of protostellar evolution.

WFPC2 11113

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt: Probes of Solar System Formation and Evolution

The discovery of binaries in the Kuiper Belt and related small body populations is powering a revolutionary step forward in the study of this remote region. Three quarters of the known binaries in the Kuiper Belt have been discovered with HST, most by our snapshot surveys. The statistics derived from this work are beginning to yield surprising and unexpected results. We have found a strong concentration of binaries among low-inclination Classicals, a possible size cutoff to binaries among the Centaurs, an apparent preference for nearly equal mass binaries, and a strong increase in the number of binaries at small separations. We propose to continue this successful program in Cycle 16; we expect to discover at least 13 new binary systems, targeted to subgroups where these discoveries can have the greatest impact.

WFPC2 11544

The Dynamical Legacy of Star Formation

We propose to use WFPC2 to conduct a wide-field imaging survey of the young cluster IC348. This program, in combination with archival HST observations, will allow us to measure precise proper motions for individual cluster members, characterizing the intra-cluster velocity dispersion and directly studying the dynamical signatures of star formation and early cluster evolution. Our projected astrometric precision (~1 mas in each epoch) will allow us to calculate individual stellar velocities to unprecedented precision (<0.5 mas/yr; <1 km/s) and directly relate these velocities to observed spatial substructure within the cluster. This survey will also allow us to probe small-scale star formation physics by searching for high-velocity stars ejected from decaying multiple systems, expanding our knowledge of multiplicity in dense environments, and identifying new substellar and planetary-mass cluster members based on kinematic membership tests.

WFPC2 11795

WFPC2 Cycle 16 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 8-15.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq                08                 08
FGS REacq                07                 07
OBAD with Maneuver       30                 30


SpaceRef staff editor.