Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4809

By SpaceRef Editor
March 13, 2009
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am March 11 – 5am March 12, 2009 (DOY 070/1000z-071/1000z)


ACS/SBC 11980

Deep FUV Imaging of Cooling Flow Clusters

We propose to take deep ACS FUV images of a carefully selected sample of 19 bright central galaxies in nearby galaxy clusters. This program is the last critical element of a comprehensive investigation of the impact of stellar and AGN feedback on the local galaxy cluster environment. The HST images will complement new, high-resolution, Halpha images obtained with the recently commissioned Maryland-Magellan Tunable Filter (MMTF) on the Baade 6.5m telescope, archival Chandra, VLA, and GALEX data, and on-going H2/NIR observations. The MMTF data have revealed unsuspected filamentary complexes in several systems. The GALEX data often show hints of extended NUV and FUV emission on a similar scale, but their poor spatial resolution prevents meaningful comparison with the MMTF data. The HST data will provide this much needed gain in resolution. The combined radio-H2-Halpha-FUV-X-ray dataset will allow us to derive with unprecedented precision the role of the AGN, hot stars, shocks, and relativistic particles on the excitation and thermodynamics of the multi-phase intracluster and interstellar media in these systems. This is an important question since the formation and evolution of most cluster galaxies have likely been affected by these processes.

ACS/SBC 11982

Spanning the Reionization History of IGM Helium: a Large and Efficient HST Spectral Survey of Far-UV-Bright Quasars

The reionization of IGM helium is thought to have occurred at redshifts of z=3 to 4. Detailed studies of HeII Lyman-alpha absorption toward a handful of QSOs at 2.7< z<3.3 demonstrated the high potential of such IGM probes, but the small sample size and redshift range limit confidence in cosmological inferences. The requisite unobscured sightlines to high-z are extremely rare, but we've cross-correlated 10, 000 z>2.8 SDSS DR7 (and other) quasars with GALEX GR4 UV sources to obtain 550 new, high confidence, sightlines potentially useful for HST HeII studies; and in cycle 15-16 trials we demonstrated the efficacy of our SDSS/GALEX selection approach identifying 9 new HeII quasars at unprecedented 67% efficiency. We propose the first far-UV-bright HeII quasar survey that is both large in scale and also efficient, via 2-orbit reconnaissance ACS/SBC prism spectra toward a highly select subset of 40 new SDSS/GALEX quasars at 3.1< z<5.1. These will provide a community resource list that includes 5 far-UV-bright (restframe) HeII sightlines in each of 8 redshift bins spanning 3.1< z<3.9 (and perhaps several objects at z>4), enabling superb post-SM4 follow-up spectra with COS or STIS. But simultaneously and independent of any SM4 uncertainties, we will hereby directly obtain 10-orbit UV spectral stacks from the 5 HeII quasars in each of the 8 redshift bins to trace the reionization history of IGM helium over at least 3.1< z<3.9. These spectral stacks will average over cosmic variance and individual object pathology. Our new high-yield HeII sightline sample and spectral stacks, covering a large redshift range, will allow confident conclusions about the spectrum and evolution of the ionizing background, the evolution of HeII opacity, the density of IGM baryons, and the epoch of helium reionization.

WFPC2 11201

Systemic and Internal Motions of the Magellanic Clouds: Third Epoch Images

In Cycles 11 and 13 we obtained two epochs of ACS/HRC data for fields in the Magellanic Clouds centered on background quasars. We used these data to determine the proper motions of the LMC and SMC to better than 5% and 15% respectively. These are by far the best determinations of the proper motions of these two galaxies. The results have a number of unexpected implications for the Milky Way-LMC-SMC system. The implied three-dimensional velocities are larger than previously believed, and are not much less than the escape velocity in a standard 10^12 solar mass Milky Way dark halo. Orbit calculations suggest the Clouds may not be bound to the Milky Way or may just be on their first passage, both of which would be unexpected in view of traditional interpretations of the Magellanic Stream. Alternatively, the Milky Way dark halo may be a factor of two more massive than previously believed, which would be surprising in view of other observational constraints. Also, the relative velocity between the LMC and SMC is larger than expected, leaving open the possibility that the Clouds may not be bound to each other. To further verify and refine our results we now request an epoch of WFPC2/PC data for the fields centered on 40 quasars that have at least one epoch of ACS imaging. We request execution in snapshot mode, as in our previous programs, to ensure the most efficient use of HST resources. A third epoch of data of these fields will provide crucial information to verify that there are no residual systematic effects in our previous measurements. More importantly, it will increase the time baseline from 2 to 5 yrs and will increase the number of fields with at least two epochs of data. This will reduce our uncertainties correspondingly, so that we can better address whether the Clouds are indeed bound to each other and to the Milky Way. It will also allow us to constrain the internal motions of various populations within the Clouds, and will allow us to determine a distance to the LMC using rotational parallax.

WFPC2 11978

Luminous and Dark Matter in Disk Galaxies from Strong Lensing and Stellar Kinematics

The formation of realistic disk galaxies within the LCDM paradigm is still an unsolved problem. Theory is only now beginning to make predictions for how dark matter halos respond to galaxy formation and for the properties of disk galaxies. Measuring the density profiles of dark matter halos on galaxy scales is therefore a strong test for the standard paradigm of galaxy formation, offering great potential for discovery. However, from an observational point of view, the degeneracy between the stellar and dark matter contributions to galaxy rotation curves remains a major road block. Strong gravitational lensing, when coupled to spatially-resolved kinematics and stellar population models, can solve this long-standing problem. Unfortunately, this joint methodology could not be exploited so far due to the paucity of known edge-on spiral lenses. Exploiting the full SDSS-DR7 archive we have identified a new sample of exactly these systems. We propose multi-color HST imaging to confirm and measure a sample of twenty spiral lenses, covering a range of bulge to disk ratios. By combining dynamical lensing and stellar population information for this unique sample we will deliver the first statistical constraints on halos and disk properties, and a new stringent test of disk galaxy formation theories.


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


11716 – At 070/23:00:51, GSAcq (1,2,1) scheduled from 070/22:55:15 – 23:03:19 failed to RGA Hold due to Search Radius Limit Exceeded error on FGS-1

Observations affected: ACS 3, Proposal ID# 11980.


18407-1 – Restore FSW FSCMAT to 6 arc-seconds @ 070/1906Z


                       SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSAcq               06                  05
FGS REAcq               06                  06
OBAD with Maneuver      26                  26


FLASH REPORT – FSCMAT restoration:

Ops Request# 18407 was completed at 2009.070/19:07 to restore the FSW Coarse Mode Angle Threshold to the usual 6 a-s.

SpaceRef staff editor.