Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4774

By SpaceRef Editor
January 22, 2009
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT #4774

Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 16 – 5am January 21, 2009 (DOY 016/1000z-021/1000z)

OBSERVATIONS SCHEDULED

WFPC2 11968

The Light Echoes Around V838 Monocerotis: Cycle 16 DD

This is a DD program in which we propose to obtain WFPC2 imaging of the light echo around V838 Mon in late 2008 or early 2009. We were awarded Cycle 17 time to image the echo with ACS at 2 epochs (3+4 orbits). To obtain data of similar quality with WFPC2 requires 7 orbits at 2 different pointings. Because of the SM4 delay, we are therefore requesting a 14-orbit DD program for Cycle 16, leaving the Cycle 17 allocation unchanged for continued monitoring of the event in late 2009 and 2010.

V838 Monocerotis, which burst upon the astronomical scene in early 2002, is a completely unanticipated new object. It underwent a large-amplitude and very luminous outburst, during which its spectrum remained that of an extremely cool supergiant. A rapidly evolving set of light echoes around V838 Mon was discovered soon after the outburst, quickly becoming the most spectacular display of the phenomenon yet seen. These light echoes provide the means to accomplish three unique types of measurements based on continued HST imaging: (1) study MHD turbulence at high resolution and in 3 dimensions; (2) construct the first unambiguous and fully 3-D map of a circumstellar dust envelope; (3) study dust physics in a unique setting where the spectrum and light curve of the illumination, and the scattering angle, are unambiguously known. We have also used our HST data to determine the distance to V838 Mon through a novel geometric technique.

Because of the extreme rarity of light echoes, this program of regular monitoring provides the only opportunity to achieve such results during the HST lifetime. We propose WFPC2 imaging in late 2008/early 2009, in order to continue the mapping of the circumstellar dust and to accomplish the other goals listed above.

WFPC2 11966

The Recent Star Formation History of SINGS Galaxies

The Spitzer Legacy project SINGS provided a unique view of the current state of star formation and dust in a sample of galaxies of all Hubble types. This multi-wavelength view allowed the team to create current star formation diagnostics that are independent of the dust content and increased our understanding of the dust in galaxies. Even so, using the SINGS data alone we can only make rough estimates of the recent star formation history of these galaxies. The lack of high resolution observations (especially U-band and H-alpha) means that it is impossible to estimate the ages of young clusters. In addition, the low resolution of the Spitzer and ground-based observations means that what appear to be individual Spitzer sources can actually be composed of many individual clusters with varying ages. We need to know the ages, star formation histories, and extinction of these individual clusters to understand how these clusters form and age and thus influence the evolution of the galaxy. In this proposal we address this missing area of SINGS by obtaining high-resolution WFPC2 UBVI & H-alpha observations to not only accurately locate and determine the ages of the young stellar clusters in the actively star forming SINGS galaxies but to also address a variety of other scientific issues. Over 500 HST orbits and 500 hours of Spitzter observing time have been dedicated to observations of the SINGS sample. But the HST observations have not been systematic. By adding a relatively small fraction of this time for these requested observations, we will greatly enhance the legacy value of the SINGS observations by creating a uniform high resolution multi-wavelength HST archive that matches the quality of the lower resolution SINGS archive.

WFPC2 11962

A New Supernova in the Antennae; Narrowing in on the Hubble Constant and Dark Energy

A measurement of the Hubble constant to a precision of a few percent would be a powerful aid to the investigation of the nature of dark energy and a potent “end-to-end” test of the present cosmological model. In Cycle 15 we constructed a new, streamlined distance ladder utilizing high-quality type Ia supernova data and observations of Cepheids with HST in the near-IR to minimize the dominant sources of systematic uncertainty in past measurements of the Hubble constant and reduce its total uncertainty to a little under 5%. Here we propose to exploit this new route with a rare opportunity to begin reducing the remaining uncertainty. SN 2007sr in the Antennae (NGC 4038/9) is the rare SN Ia which is suitable for increasing the precision of small calibration sample of SNe Ia. Even rarer is that it is close enough that it’s Cepheids are within range of observing with WFPC2 (and NICMOS, should it return to life). But we need to act fast as the window of long visibility and fixed orient runs from mid-early December 2008 to early March 2009. We request 34 orbits with WFPC2 to find the Cepheids in the SN host. We also request 16 orbits to observe the Cepheids we find with Camera 2, F160W if NICMOS becomes available by April 2009 . (If NICMOS does not return we would forgo these observations and ask the TTRB to let us make them with our own WFC3-IR allocation, though we much prefer the smaller pixel size of NIC2).

WFPC2 11956

Hubble Heritage: Side B

We propose a program of 39 orbits to observe 6 targets with WFPC2 following a successful return to science using side B electronics. These observations will be used for Hubble Heritage releases in the months leading up to servicing mission 4. Because of launch delays, our reserve of releasable images is growing dangerously slim. We are proposing here to replenish one of our important lines of communication with the public.

We have carefully chosen targets that can efficiently use single pointings of WFPC2 to obtain images of visually striking and astrophysically interesting targets. Observations will reach high S/N and will be dithered and subsampled to improve the resolution and pixel scale to near ACS/WFC3 quality at a modest cost in exposure time. Most of the observations will schedule in the interim between a return to science and the availability of new science proposals that may be selected in response to an interim call for proposals.

WFPC2 11944

Binaries at the Extremes of the H-R Diagram

We propose to use HST/Fine Guidance Sensor 1r to survey for binaries among some of the most massive, least massive, and oldest stars in our part of the Galaxy. FGS allows us to spatially resolve binary systems that are too faint to observe using ground-based, speckle or optical long baseline interferometry, and too close to resolve with AO. We propose a SNAP-style program of single orbit FGS TRANS mode observations of very massive stars in the cluster NGC 3603, luminous blue variables, nearby low mass main sequence stars, cool subdwarf stars, and white dwarfs. These observations will help us to (1) identify systems suitable for follow up studies for mass determination, (2) study the role of binaries in stellar birth and in advanced evolutionary states, (3) explore the fundamental properties of stars near the main sequence-brown dwarf boundary, (4) understand the role of binaries for X-ray bright systems, (5) find binaries among ancient and nearby subdwarf stars, and (6) help calibrate the white dwarf mass – radius relation.

FGS 11943

Binaries at the Extremes of the H-R Diagram

We propose to use HST/Fine Guidance Sensor 1r to survey for binaries among some of the most massive, least massive, and oldest stars in our part of the Galaxy. FGS allows us to spatially resolve binary systems that are too faint for ground-based, speckle or optical long baseline interferometry, and too close to resolve with AO. We propose a SNAP-style program of single orbit FGS TRANS mode observations of very massive stars in the cluster NGC 3603, luminous blue variables, nearby low mass main sequence stars, cool subdwarf stars, and white dwarfs. These observations will help us to (1) identify systems suitable for follow up studies for mass determination, (2) study the role of binaries in stellar birth and in advanced evolutionary states, (3) explore the fundamental properties of stars near the main sequence-brown dwarf boundary, (4) understand the role of binaries for X-ray bright systems, (5) find binaries among ancient and nearby subdwarf stars, and (6) help calibrate the white dwarf mass – radius relation.

WFPC2 11793

WFPC2 Cycle 16 Internal Monitor

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.

WFPC2 11302

WFPC2 CYCLE 16 Standard Darks – Part III

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.

ACS/SBC 11236

Did Rare, Large Escape-Fraction Galaxies Reionize the Universe?

Lyman continuum photons produced in massive starbursts may have played a dominant role in the reionization of the Universe. Starbursts are important contributors to the ionizing metagalactic background at lower redshifts as well. However, their contribution to the background depends upon the fraction of ionizing radiation that escapes from the intrinsic opacity of galaxies below the Lyman limit. Current surveys suggest that the escape fraction is close to zero in most galaxies, even among young starbursts, but is large in 15-25% of them. Non-uniform escape fractions are expected as a result of violent events creating clear paths in small parts of galaxies. The number of galaxies observed with high escape fraction will result from the combination of the intrinsic number with clear lines of sight and their orientation with respect to the observer. We propose to measure the fraction of escaping Lyman continuum radiation in a large sample (47) of z~0.7 starbursts in the COSMOS field. These compact UV-luminous galaxies are good analogs to high redshift LBGs. Using the SBC/PR130L we can quickly (1-4 orbits) detect relative escape fractions (f_LC/f_1500) of 25% or more. This will be the first measurement of the escape fraction in sources between z=1 and the local universe. We expect ~10 detections. Stacking will set limits of <4% on the relative escape fraction in the rest. We will correlate the LC detections with the properties of the galaxies. By targeting z~0.7 in COSMOS, we will have tremendous ancillary information on those sources. A non-detection in all sources would be significant (99% confidence). This would imply that QSOs provide the overwhelming majority of ionizing radiation at z<1, requiring substantial evolution in the processes within Lyman break galaxies which allow large escape fractions at high redshift.

ACS/SBC/WFPC2 11230

HST FUV Observations of Brightest Cluster Galaxies: The Role of Star Formation in Cooling Flows and BCG Evolution

The intracluster medium (ICM) now appears to be a very dynamic place where heating and cooling processes vie for dominance and an uneasy equilibrium is maintained. Since these same processes may operate during the process of galaxy formation, the centers of clusters of galaxies provide low redshift laboratories for studying the critical processes involved in galaxy formation and black hole growth. At the present time, the main questions are (1) How much gas is cooling out of the ICM? (2) How much star formation is ongoing? (3) What is the impact of the gas and star formation on the central BCG? In order to measure the current star formation in BCGs we have undertaken a program of Spitzer IRAC and MIPS observations. We are in process of obtaining observations of a sample of Brightest Cluster Galaxies in 70 clusters selected from the ROSAT all sky survey. In about 25% of the sources observed so far, we detect a mid-IR excess which we attribute to dust heated by star formation. We propose to obtain ACS/SBC observations of the Lyman Alpha emission line and the adjacent FUV continuum in 7 BCGs which are in cooling core clusters of galaxies and have a large mid-IR excess. We also propose WFPC2 F606W observations of the two clusters without high resolution imaging to allow us to image the dust on the same scale as the Far UV continuum. The FUV will allow us to confirm the presence of ongoing star formation in these BCGs and will allow us to rule out an AGN as the dominant contributor to the mid-IR. The morphology and spatial extent of the young stars and the heated dust and CO will constrain the spatial scale over which star formation occurs and thus where the cooling gas is deposited. The combination of our FUV and IR observations will allow us to estimate the star formation rates which must balance the rate at which cold gas is deposited in the BCG. Our proposed FUV observations will produce unique information about the cooling gas, the true mass accretion rates, and the star formation rates in BCGs and its effect on the galaxy.

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 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 10877

A Snapshot Survey of the Sites of Recent, Nearby Supernovae

During the past few years, robotic {or nearly robotic} searches for supernovae {SNe}, most notably our Lick Observatory Supernova Search {LOSS}, have found hundreds of SNe, many of them in quite nearby galaxies {cz < 4000 km/s}. Most of the objects were discovered before maximum brightness, and have follow-up photometry and spectroscopy; they include some of the best-studied SNe to date. We propose to conduct a snapshot imaging survey of the sites of some of these nearby objects, to obtain late-time photometry that {through the shape of the light and color curves} will help reveal the origin of their lingering energy. The images will also provide high-resolution information on the local environments of SNe that are far superior to what we can procure from the ground. For example, we will obtain color-color and color-magnitude diagrams of stars in these SN sites, to determine the SN progenitor masses and constraints on the reddening. Recovery of the SNe in the new HST images will also allow us to actually pinpoint their progenitor stars in cases where pre- explosion images exist in the HST archive. This proposal is an extension of our successful Cycle 13 snapshot survey with ACS. It is complementary to our Cycle 15 archival proposal, which is a continuation of our long-standing program to use existing HST images to glean information about SN environments.

FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:

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

HSTARS:

11641 – NCC (NICMOS CRYO-COOLER) safed after restart @ 017/0006z

11642 – GSAcq (2,3,2) failed to RGA Hold due to Search Radius Limit Exceeded on FGS-3 @017/17:57z

Observation affected: Astrometry Proposal 11944

COMPLETED OPS REQUEST:

18370-2 – Adjust NCS CPL Setpoint (20 1o steps) up to 15.0oC

18382-4 – NCS Restart and Cooldown

18383-1 – 8051 History Buffer Snapshot

COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)

                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq                30                  29
FGS REacq                40                  40
OBAD with Maneuver      126                 125

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS:

FLASH Report NCC Compressor Restart:

At 016/14:47:32 UTC, the NCC compressor was successfully restarted

At approximately 017/00:06:31, the NCC safed due to a turboalternator speed limit violation.

SpaceRef staff editor.