Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4782

By SpaceRef Editor
February 3, 2009
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 30 – 5am February 02, 2009 (DOY 030/1000z-033/1000z)


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 11944/11943

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 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 11942

Increasing the Accuracy of HST Astrometry with FGS1R

We propose to observe six exoplanetary system host stars and two planetary nebulae central stars with FGS1r. All objects have been previously observed under proposals GO-09233, -09969, -10989, and -11210. These observations will significantly extend the time baseline, permitting improvements in the determination of proper motion. This systematic motion must be removed to get at the perturbation of interest, either due to exoplanetary companions or the orbital motion of the Earth (parallax). In most cases the perturbation orbits will also improve. We improve either companion mass or PN parallax. For one target, GJ 876, theoretical dynamical modelers have proposed an inclination closer to 50 degrees, while FGS3 measurements indicated an inclination closer to 84 degrees. These new data, once combined with our older FGS3 data, will permit an independent remeasurement of the inclination of the outermost companion, and a re-evaluation of widely used dynamical algorithms.

WFPC2 11797

Supplemental WFPC2 CYCLE 16 Intflat Linearity Check and Filter Rotation Anomaly Monitor

Supplemental observations to 11029, to cover period from Aug 08 to SM4. Intflat observations will be taken to provide a linearity check: the linearity test consists of a series of intflats in F555W, in each gain and each shutter. A combination of intflats, visflats, and earthflats will be used to check the repeatability of filter wheel motions. (Intflat sequences tied to decons, visits 1-18 in prop 10363, have been moved to the cycle 15 decon proposal 11022 for easier scheduling.)

Note: long-exposure WFPC2 intflats must be scheduled during ACS anneals to prevent stray light from the WFPC2 lamps from contaminating long ACS external exposures.

Note: These are supplemental observations to cover June to SM4 (Oct 8 ’08) + 6 months.

WFPC2 11794

Cycle 16 Visible Earth Flats

This proposal monitors flatfield stability. This proposal obtains sequences of Earth streak flats to construct high quality flat fields for the WFPC2 filter set. These flat fields will allow mapping of the OTA illumination pattern and will be used in conjunction with previous internal and external flats to generate new pipeline superflats. These Earth flats will complement the Earth flat data obtained during cycles 4-15.

WFPC2 11289

SL2S: The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey

Recent systematic surveys of strong galaxy-galaxy lenses {CLASS, SLACS, GOODS, etc.} are producing spectacular results for galaxy masses roughly below a transition mass M~10^13 Mo. The observed lens properties and their evolution up to z~0.2, consistent with numerical simulations, can be described by isothermal elliptical potentials. In contrast, modeling of giant arcs in X-ray luminous clusters {halo masses M >~10^13 Mo} favors NFW mass profiles, suggesting that dark matter halos are not significantly affected by baryon cooling. Until recently, lensing surveys were neither deep nor extended enough to probe the intermediate mass density regime, which is fundamental for understanding the assembly of structures. The CFHT Legacy Survey now covers 125 square degrees, and thus offers a large reservoir of strong lenses probing a large range of mass densities up to z~1. We have extracted a list of 150 strong lenses using the most recent CFHTLS data release via automated procedures. Following our first SNAPSHOT proposal in cycle 15, we propose to continue the Hubble follow-up targeting a larger list of 130 lensing candidates. These are intermediate mass range candidates {between galaxies and clusters} that are selected in the redshift range of 0.2-1 with no a priori X-ray selection. The HST resolution is necessary for confirming the lensing candidates, accurate modeling of the lenses, and probing the total mass concentration in galaxy groups up to z~1 with the largest unbiased sample available to date.

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.

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.


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


11657 – GSacq(2,3,3) scheduled at 031/17:18:18 failed to RGA control at 17:21:28 with QF2STOPF and QSTOP flags set.

Observations affected: Astrometry FGS1,Proposal ID #11944

11658 – GSacq(1,2,2) scheduled at 031/19:11:36 failed to RGA control. At AOS stop flags QF1STOPF and QSTOP flags were set.

REacq(1,2,2) scheduled at 031/20:40:22 failed to RGA control at 20:43:18 with stop flags QF1STOPF and QSTOP flags set.

Upon acquisition of signal at 031/23:43:46, REacq (1,2,2) scheduled at 031/22:16:20 failed to RGA Hold.

Observations affected: WFPC 107 and 112, Proposal ID#11956.

11659 – REacq(1,2,2) scheduled at 032/00:05:42 – 00:13:47 failed to RGA Hold (Gyro Control).

Observation affected: WFPC 113 Proposal ID#11956


18370-2 Adjust NCS CPL Setpoint 3 times (down to 10º C)


                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq               15                   13
FGS REacq               18                   15
OBAD with Maneuver      65                   65


SpaceRef staff editor.