- Press Release
- August 18, 2022
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4816
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT #4816
Continuing to collect World Class Science
PERIOD COVERED: 5am March 20 – 5am March 23, 2009 (DOY 079/0900z-082/0900z)
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 U-band observations 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. In this proposal we plan to address this missing area in SINGS by obtaining high-resolution WFPC2 UBVI observations to accurately find and determine the ages of the young stellar clusters in a subset of the SINGS galaxies. These observations will greatly enhance the legacy value of the SINGS observations while also directly answering questions pertaining to star formation in galaxies.
Completing HST’s Local Volume Legacy
Nearby galaxies offer one of the few laboratories within which stellar populations can be tied to multi-wavelength observations. They are thus essential for calibrating and interpreting key astrophysical observables, such as broad-band luminosities, durations and energy input from starbursts, and timescales of UV, H-alpha, and FIR emission. The study of stellar populations in nearby galaxies requires high-resolution observations with HST, but HST’s legacy for this limited set of galaxies remains incomplete.
As a first attempt to establish this legacy, The ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury (ANGST) began observations in late 2006. ANGST was designed to carry out a uniform multi-color survey of a volume-limited sample of ~70 nearby galaxies that could be used for systematic studies of resolved stellar populations. The resulting data provide nuanced constraints on the processes which govern star formation and galaxy evolution, for a well-defined population of galaxies. All photometry for the survey has been publicly released.
However, the failure of ACS 4.5 months after ANGST began taking data led to a drastic reduction in the planned survey. The loss is two-fold. First, the goals of completeness and uniformity were greatly compromised, impacting global comparison studies. Second, the variety of observed star formation histories was reduced. Given that we have never found two galaxies with identical star formation histories, and fully sampling the population allows us to catch those few systems whose star formation rates and metallicities place the strongest constraints on key astrophysical processes.
Here we propose WFPC2 observations of all remaining galaxies within the Local Volume (D<3.5Mpc) for which current HST observations are insufficient for meaningful stellar population studies. We will use these observations for research on the star formation histories of individual galaxies and the Local Volume, detailed calibrations of star formation rate indicators, and the durations of starbursts. We will also make them publicly available through the ANGST archive to support future research. The proposed observations will finally complete a lasting legacy of HST
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.
Particle Separation in and Expansion of the Dust Arcs of the Young Star V1331 Cyg
HST-WFPC2 imaging of the young star V1331 Cyg revealed several dust arcs seen in scattered light which were caused by short-lived strong winds arising from FU Ori-like outbursts. Most notably the brightest outer arc is encircled by an expanding CO ring which implies that the otherwise extremely well mixed gas and dust components were separated according to particle mass. This is presumably due to the dependence of the wind ram pressure on the ratio of particle cross section and mass as well as the brief acceleration period. Thus, we suspect that a FU Ori outburst acts as a cosmic mass spectrometer. In order to verify this hypothesis, we apply for 2nd epoch imaging to reveal the color gradient across the bright dust arc which will be induced by the grain sorting. Furthermore, the current imagery will allow us to prove directly the expansion of the arc by measuring its proper motion. The proposed observations represent new diagnostics for what concerns studies of young stellar objects.
UV Light from Old Stellar Populations: a Census of UV Sources in Galactic Globular Clusters
In spite of the fact that HST has been the only operative high-resolution eye in the UV-window over the last 18 years, no homogeneous UV survey of Galactic globular clusters (GGCs) has been performed to date. In order to fill this gap in the stellar population studies, we propose a program that exploits the unique capability of the WFPC2 and the SBC in the far-/mid- UV for securing deep UV imaging of 46 GGCs. The proposed observations will allow to study with unprecedented accuracy the hottest GGC stars, comprising the extreme horizontal branch (HB) stars and their progeny (the so-called AGB-manque’, and Post-early AGB stars), and “exotic stellar populations” like the blue straggler stars and the interacting binaries. The targets have been selected to properly sample the GGC metallicity/structural parameter space, thus to unveil any possible correlation between the properties of the hot stellar populations and the cluster characteristics. In addition, most of the targets have extended HB “blue tails”, that can be properly studied only by means of deep UV observations, especially in the far-UV filters like the F160BW, that is not foreseen on the WFC3. This data base is complemented with GALEX observations in the cluster outermost regions, thus allowing to investigate any possible trend of the UV-bright stellar types over the entire radial extension of the clusters. Although the hottest GGC stars are just a small class of “special” objects, their study has a broad relevance in the context of structure formation and chemical evolution in the early Universe, bringing precious information on the basic star formation processes and the origin of blue light from galaxies. Indeed, the proposed observations will provide the community with an unprecedented data set suitable for addressing a number of still open astrophysical questions, ranging from the main drivers of the HB morphology and the mass loss processes, to the origin of the UV upturn in elliptical galaxies, the dating of distant systems from integrated light, and the complex interplay between stellar evolution and dynamics in dense stellar aggregates. In the spirit of constructing a community resource, we entirely waive the proprietary period for these observations.
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.
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.
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.
The Ages of Globular Clusters and the Population II Distance Scale
Globular clusters are the oldest objects in the universe whose age can be accurately determined. The dominant error in globular cluster age determinations is the uncertain Population II distance scale. We propose to use FGS 1r to obtain parallaxes with an accuracy of 0.2 milliarcsecond for 9 main sequence stars with [Fe/H] < -1.5. This will determine the absolute magnitude of these stars with accuracies of 0.04 to 0.06mag. This data will be used to determine the distance to 24 metal-poor globular clusters using main sequence fitting. These distances (with errors of 0.05 mag) will be used to determine the ages of globular clusters using the luminosity of the subgiant branch as an age indicator. This will yield absolute ages with an accuracy 5%, about a factor of two improvement over current estimates. Coupled with existing parallaxes for more metal-rich stars, we will be able to accurately determine the age for globular clusters over a wide range of metallicities in order to study the early formation history of the Milky Way and provide an independent estimate of the age of the universe.
The Hipparcos database contains only 1 star with [Fe/H] < -1.4 and an absolute magnitude error less than 0.18 mag which is suitable for use in main sequence fitting. Previous attempts at main sequence fitting to metal-poor globular clusters have had to rely on theoretical calibrations of the color of the main sequence. Our HST parallax program will remove this source of possible systematic error and yield distances to metal-poor globular clusters which are significantly more accurate than possible with the current parallax data. The HST parallax data will have errors which are 10 times smaller than the current parallax data. Using the HST parallaxes, we will obtain main sequence fitting distances to 11 globular clusters which contain over 500 RR Lyrae stars. This will allow us to calibrate the absolute magnitude of RR Lyrae stars, a commonly used Population II distance indicator.
Identifying the host galaxies for optically dark gamma-ray bursts
We propose to use the high spatial resolution capabilities of Chandra to obtain precise positions for a sample of Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with no optical afterglows, where the optical light is suppressed relative to the X-ray flux. These bursts are likely to be highly obscured and may have different environments from the optically bright GRBs. Our Chandra observations will (unlike Swift-XRT positions) allow for the unique identification of a host galaxy. To locate these host galaxies we will follow up our Chandra positions with deep optical and IR observations with HST. The ultimate aim is to understand any differences between the host galaxies of optically dark and bright GRBs, and how these affect the use of GRBs as tracers of starformation and galaxy evolution at high redshift.
HST Cycle 16 & Pre-SM4 Optical Monitor
This is a continuation of the Cycle 15 & pre-SM4 Optical Monitor, 11020. Please see that proposal for a more complete description of the observing strategy. The 6 visits comprising this proposal observe two single standard stars with WFPC2/PC in order to establish overall OTA focal length for the purposes of focus maintenance. The goal of this monitoring before SM4 is to establish a best estimate of the OTA focus entering SMOV.
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.
FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:
Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)
11734 – REAcq(1,2,2) scheduled at 082/04:04:45z failed due to scan step limited exceed on FGS1.
Observation effected WFPC 23-24, Proposal ID# 11975 & 11302.
COMPLETED OPS REQUEST: (None)
COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)
SCHEDULED SUCCESSFUL FGS GSAcq 15 15 FGS REAcq 23 22 OBAD with Maneuver 76 76
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: (None)