Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4949

By SpaceRef Editor
October 14, 2009
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am October 9 – 5am October 13, 2009 (DOY 282/09:00z-286/09:00z)


NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8795

NICMOS Post-SAA Calibration – CR Persistence Part 6

This is a new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50 minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in parallel in all three NICMOS cameras. The post-SAA darks will be non-standard reference files available to users with a ‘Use After’ date/time mark. The keyword ‘UseAfter=date/time’ will also be added to the header of each post-SAA dark frame. The keyword must be populated with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8 times per day, so each post-SAA dark will need to have the appropriate time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw and processed images will be archived as post-SAA darks. Generally we expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within 50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such MAPs to remove the CR persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the NICMOS detectors.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 11947

Extended Dark Monitoring

This program takes a series of darks to obtain darks (including amplifier glow, dark current, and shading profiles) for all three cameras in the read-out sequences used in Cycle 17. A set of 12 orbits will be observed every two months for a total of 72 orbits for a 12 month Cycle 17. This is a continuation of Cycle 16 program 11330 scaled down by ~80%.

The first orbit (Visit A0) should be scheduled in the NICMOS SMOV after the DC Transfer Test (11406) and at least 36h before the Filter Wheel Test (11407). Data download using fast track.

The following 28 orbits (visit A1-N2) should be scheduled AFTER the SMOV Proposal 11407 (Filter Wheel Test). This is done in order to monitor the dark current following an adjustment of the NCS set-point. These visits should be executed until the final temperature is reached during SMOV.

WFC3/IR/S/C 11929

IR Dark Current Monitor

Analyses of ground test data showed that dark current signals are more reliably removed from science data using darks taken with the same exposure sequences as the science data, than with a single dark current image scaled by desired exposure time. Therefore, dark current images must be collected using all sample sequences that will be used in science observations. These observations will be used to monitor changes in the dark current of the WFC3-IR channel on a day-to-day basis, and to build calibration dark current ramps for each of the sample sequences to be used by GOs in Cycle 17. For each sample sequence/array size combination, a median ramp will be created and delivered to the calibration database system (CDBS).

WFC3/UVIS 11908

Cycle 17: UVIS Bowtie Monitor

Ground testing revealed an intermittent hysteresis type effect in the UVIS detector (both CCDs) at the level of ~1%, lasting hours to days. Initially found via an unexpected bowtie-shaped feature in flatfield ratios, subsequent lab tests on similar e2v devices have since shown that it is also present as simply an overall offset across the entire CCD, i.e., a QE offset without any discernable pattern. These lab tests have further revealed that overexposing the detector to count levels several times full well fills the traps and effectively neutralizes the bowtie. Each visit in this proposal acquires a set of three 3×3 binned internal flatfields: the first unsaturated image will be used to detect any bowtie, the second, highly exposed image will neutralize the bowtie if it is present, and the final image will allow for verification that the bowtie is gone.

WFC3/UVIS 11907

UVIS Cycle 17 Contamination Monitor

The UV throughput of WFC3 during Cycle 17 is monitored via weekly standard star observations in a subset of key filters covering 200-600nm and F606W, F814W as controls on the red end. The data will provide a measure of throughput levels as a function of time and wavelength, allowing for detection of the presence of possible contaminants.

WFC3/UVIS 11905

WFC3 UVIS CCD Daily Monitor

The behavior of the WFC3 UVIS CCD will be monitored daily with a set of full-frame, four-amp bias and dark frames. A smaller set of 2Kx4K subarray biases are acquired at less frequent intervals throughout the cycle to support subarray science observations. The internals from this proposal, along with those from the anneal procedure (Proposal 11909), will be used to generate the necessary superbias and superdark reference files for the calibration pipeline (CDBS).

COS/FUV 11895

FUV Detector Dark Monitor

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the FUV detector dark rate by taking long science exposures without illuminating the detector. The detector dark rate and spatial distribution of counts will be compared to pre-launch and SMOV data in order to verify the nominal operation of the detector. Variations of count rate as a function of orbital position will be analyzed to find dependence of dark rate on proximity to the SAA. Dependence of dark rate as function of time will also be tracked.

ACS/WFC3 11879

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 1)

This program comprises basic tests for measuring the read noise and dark current of the ACS WFC and for tracking the growth of hot pixels. The recorded frames are used to create bias and dark reference images for science data reduction and calibration. This program will be executed four days per week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) for the duration of Cycle 17. To facilitate scheduling, this program is split into three proposals. This proposal covers 352 orbits (22 weeks) from 31 August 2009 to 31 January 2010.

STIS/CCD 11846

CCD Bias Monitor-Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the bias in the 1×1, 1×2, 2×1, and 2×2 bin settings at gain=1, and 1×1 at gain = 4, to build up high-S/N superbiases and track the evolution of hot columns.

STIS/CCD 11844

CCD Dark Monitor Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.

WFC3/IR 11838

Completing a Flux-limited Survey for X-ray Emission from Radio Jets

We will measure the changing flow speeds, magnetic fields, and energy fluxes in well-resolved quasar jets found in our short-exposure Chandra survey by combining new, deep Chandra data with radio and optical imaging. We will image each jet with sufficient sensitivity to estimate beaming factors and magnetic fields in several distinct regions, and so map the variations in these parameters down the jets. HST observations will help diagnose the role of synchrotron emission in the overall SED, and may reveal condensations on scales less than 0.1 arcsec.

STIS/CCD 11806

Coordinated Observations of LCROSS Impacts

We propose to observe the LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) impacts. This program will use STIS and WFC3 to observe the Moon in conjunction with NASA’s LCROSS mission (assuming Servicing Mission 4 occurs before the LCROSS impacts). The goal is to determine whether or not water ice and/or vapor is present in the subsurface of the Moon. We will address this issue by 1) observing the sunlit ejecta plume created by the LCROSS impacts and 2) examine the Lunar exosphere for the presence of OH and other volatile species.

WFC3/UVIS 11729

Photometric Metallicity Calibration with WFC3 Specialty Filters

The community has chosen to include several filters in the WFC3 filter complement that have been designed to allow fairly precise estimates of stellar metallicities, and many science programs are enabled by this capability. Since these filters do not exactly match those used for this purpose on the ground, however, the mapping of stellar colors to stellar metallicities needs to be calibrated. We propose to achieve this calibration through observations of five stellar clusters with well known metallicities. We will calibrate several different filter calibrations which will allow future users to determine what filter combination best meets their science needs.

WFC3/UVIS 11714

Snapshot Survey for Planetary Nebulae in Local Group Globular Clusters

Planetary nebulae (PNe) in globular clusters (GCs) raise a number of interesting issues related to stellar and galactic evolution. The number of PNe known in Milky Way GCs, four, is surprisingly low if one assumes that all stars pass through a PN stage. However, it is likely that the remnants of stars now evolving in galactic GCs leave the AGB so slowly that any ejected nebula dissipates long before the star becomes hot enough to ionize it. Thus there should not be ANY PNe in Milky Way GCs–but there are four! It has been suggested that these PNe are the result of mergers of binary stars within GCs, i.e., that they are descendants of blue stragglers. The frequency of occurrence of PNe in external galaxies poses more questions, because it shows a range of almost an order of magnitude.

I propose a SNAPshot survey aimed at discovering PNe in the GC systems of Local Group galaxies outside the Milky Way. These clusters, some of which may be much younger than their counterparts in our galaxy, might contain many more PNe than those of our own galaxy. I will use the standard technique of emission-line and continuum imaging, which easily discloses PNe. This proposal continues a WFPC2 program started in Cycle 16, but with the more powerful WFC3. As a by-product, the survey will also produce color-magnitude diagrams for numerous clusters for the first time, reaching down to the horizontal branch.

FGS 11704

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 of 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. WFC3/UV/ACS/WFC 11688 Exploring the Bottom End of the White Dwarf Cooling Sequence in the Open Cluster NGC6819 The recent discovery by our group of an unexpectedly bright end of the white-dwarf (WD) luminosity function (LF) of the metal-rich, old open cluster NGC 6791 casts serious doubts on our understanding of the physical process which rules the formation and the cooling of WDs. It is clear at this point that the theory badly needs more observations. Here we propose WFC3/UVIS and ACS/WFC HST observations reaching the bottom end of the WD LF, for the first time in a solar-metallicity, 2.5-Gyr-old, populous open cluster: NGC 6819. COS/FUV 11687 SNAPing Coronal Iron This is a Snapshot Survey to explore two forbidden lines of highly ionized iron in late-type coronal sources. Fe XII 1349 (T~ 2 MK) and Fe XXI 1354 (T~ 10 MK) — well known to Solar Physics — have been detected in about a dozen cool stars, mainly with HST/STIS. The UV coronal forbidden lines are important because they can be observed with velocity resolution of better than 15 km/s, whereas even the state-of-the-art X-ray spectrometers on Chandra can manage only 300 km/s in the kilovolt band where lines of highly ionized iron more commonly are found. The kinematic properties of hot coronal plasmas, which are of great interest to theorists and modelers, thus only are accessible in the UV at present. The bad news is that the UV coronal forbidden lines are faint, and were captured only in very deep observations with STIS. The good news is that 3rd-generation Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, slated for installation in HST by SM4, in a mere 25 minute exposure with its G130M mode can duplicate the sensitivity of a landmark 25-orbit STIS E140M observation of AD Leo, easily the deepest such exposure of a late-type star so far. Our goal is to build up understanding of the properties of Fe XII and Fe XXI in additional objects beyond the current limited sample: how the lineshapes depend on activity, whether large scale velocity shifts can be detected, and whether the dynamical content of the lines can be inverted to map the spatial morphology of the stellar corona (as in “Doppler Imaging”). In other words, we want to bring to bear in the coronal venue all the powerful tricks of spectroscopic remote sensing, well in advance of the time that this will be possible exploiting the corona’s native X-ray radiation. The 1290-1430 band captured by side A of G130M also contains a wide range of key plasma diagnostics that form at temperatures from below 10, 000 K (neutral lines of CNO), to above 200, 000 K (semi-permitted O V 1371), including the important bright multiplets of C II at 1335 and Si IV at 1400; yielding a diagnostic gold mine for the subcoronal atmosphere. Because of the broad value of the SNAP spectra, beyond the coronal iron project, we waive the normal proprietary rights. WFC3/UV/IR 11664 The WFC3 Galactic Bulge Treasury Program: Populations, Formation History, and Planets Exploiting the full power of the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), we propose deep panchromatic imaging of four fields in the Galactic bulge. These data will enable a sensitive dissection of its stellar populations, using a new set of reddening-free photometric indices we have constructed from broad-band filters across UV, optical, and near-IR wavelengths. These indices will provide accurate temperatures and metallicities for hundreds of thousands of individual bulge stars. Proper motions of these stars derived from multi-epoch observations will allow separation of pure bulge samples from foreground disk contamination. Our catalogs of proper motions and panchromatic photometry will support a wide range of bulge studies. Using these photometric and astrometric tools, we will reconstruct the detailed star-formation history as a function of position within the bulge, and thus differentiate between rapid- and extended-formation scenarios. We will also measure the dependence of the stellar mass function on metallicity, revealing how the characteristic mass of star formation varies with chemistry. Our sample of bulge stars with accurate metallicities will include 12 candidate hosts of extrasolar planets. Planet frequency is correlated with metallicity in the solar neighborhood; our measurements will extend this knowledge to a remote environment with a very distinct chemistry. Our proposal also includes observations of six well-studied globular and open star clusters; these observations will serve to calibrate our photometric indices, provide empirical population templates, and transform the theoretical isochrone libraries into the WFC3 filter system. Besides enabling our own program, these products will provide powerful new tools for a host of other stellar-population investigations with HST/WFC3. We will deliver all of the products from this Treasury Program to the community in a timely fashion. WFC3/UVIS 11657 The Population of Compact Planetary Nebulae in the Galactic Disk We propose to secure narrow- and broad-band images of compact planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Galactic Disk to study the missing link of the early phases of post-AGB evolution. Ejected AGB envelopes become PNe when the gas is ionized. PNe expand, and, when large enough, can be studied in detail from the ground. In the interim, only the HST capabilities can resolve their size, morphology, and central stars. Our proposed observations will be the basis for a systematic study of the onset of morphology. Dust properties of the proposed targets will be available through approved Spitzer/IRS spectra, and so will the abundances of the alpha- elements. We will be able thus to explore the interconnection of morphology, dust grains, stellar evolution, and populations. The target selection is suitable to explore the nebular and stellar properties across the galactic disk, and to set constraints on the galactic evolutionary models through the analysis of metallicity and population gradients. WFC3/UVIS 11594 A WFC3 Grism Survey for Lyman Limit Absorption at z=2 We propose to conduct a spectroscopic survey of Lyman limit absorbers at redshifts 1.8 < z < 2.5, using WFC3 and the G280 grism. This proposal intends to complete an approved Cycle 15 SNAP program (10878), which was cut short due to the ACS failure. We have selected 64 quasars at 2.3 < z < 2.6 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Spectroscopic Quasar Sample, for which no BAL signature is found at the QSO redshift and no strong metal absorption lines are present at z > 2.3 along the lines of sight. The survey has three main

observational goals. First, we will determine the redshift frequency dn/dz of the LLS over the column density range 16.0 < log(NHI) < 20.3 cm^-2. Second, we will measure the column density frequency distribution f(N) for the partial Lyman limit systems (PLLS) over the column density range 16.0 < log(NHI) < 17.5 cm^-2. Third, we will identify those sightlines which could provide a measurement of the primordial D/H ratio. By carrying out this survey, we can also help place meaningful constraints on two key quantities of cosmological relevance. First, we will estimate the amount of metals in the LLS using the f(N), and ground based observations of metal line transitions. Second, by determining f(N) of the PLLS, we can constrain the amplitude of the ionizing UV background at z~2 to a greater precision. This survey is ideal for a snapshot observing program, because the on-object integration times are all well below 30 minutes, and follow-up observations from the ground require minimal telescope time due to the QSO sample being bright. COS/FUV 11592 Testing the Origin(s) of the Highly Ionized High-Velocity Clouds: A Survey of Galactic Halo Stars at z>3 kpc

Cosmological simulation predicts that highly ionized gas plays an important role in the formation and evolution of galaxies and their interplay with the intergalactic medium. The NASA HST and FUSE missions have revealed high-velocity CIV and OVI absorption along extragalactic sightlines through the Galactic halo. These highly ionized high-velocity clouds (HVCs) could cover 85% of the sky and have a detection rate higher than the HI HVCs. Two competing, equally exciting, theories may explain the origin of these highly ionized HVCs: 1) the “Galactic” theory, where the HVCs are the result of feedback processes and trace the disk-halo mass exchange, perhaps including the accretion of matter condensing from an extended corona; 2) the “Local Group” theory, where they are part of the local warm-hot intergalactic medium, representing some of the missing baryonic matter of the Universe. Only direct distance determinations can discriminate between these models. Our group has found that some of these highly ionized HVCs have a Galactic origin, based on STIS observations of one star at z<5.3 kpc. We propose an HST FUV spectral survey to search for and characterize the high velocity NV, CIV, and SiIV interstellar absorption toward 24 stars at much larger distances than any previous searches (4 3 populations. Deep near-IR (F125W and F160W) images will probe the stellar mass function well below 10^9 Msun for mass-complete samples. Lastly, the WFC3 slitless UV and near-IR grisms will be used to measure redshifts and star-formation rates from H-alpha and rest-frame UV continuum slope. This WFC3 ERS program will survey one 4 x 2 mosaic for a total area of 50 square arcminutes to 5-sigma depths of m_AB = 27 in most filters from the mid-UV through the near-IR.

This multicolor high spatial resolution data set will allow the user to gauge the growth of galaxies through star-formation and merging. High precision photometric and low-resolution spectroscopic redshifts will allow accurate determinations of the faint-end of the luminosity and mass functions, and will shed light on merging and tidal disruption of stellar and gaseous disks. The WFC3 images will also allow detailed studies of the internal structure of galaxies, and the distribution of young and old stellar populations. This program will demonstrate the unique power of WFC3 by applying its many diverse modes and full panchromatic capability to a forefront problem in astrophysics.

ACS/WFC3 11343

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 star formation and galaxy evolution at high redshift.

WFC3/IR 11202

The Structure of Early-type Galaxies: 0.1-100 Effective Radii

The structure, formation and evolution of early-type galaxies is still largely an open problem in cosmology: how does the Universe evolve from large linear scales dominated by dark matter to the highly non-linear scales of galaxies, where baryons and dark matter both play important, interacting, roles? To understand the complex physical processes involved in their formation scenario, and why they have the tight scaling relations that we observe today (e.g. the Fundamental Plane), it is critically important not only to understand their stellar structure, but also their dark-matter distribution from the smallest to the largest scales. Over the last three years the SLACS collaboration has developed a toolbox to tackle these issues in a unique and encompassing way by combining new non-parametric strong lensing techniques, stellar dynamics, and most recently weak gravitational lensing, with high-quality Hubble Space Telescope imaging and VLT/Keck spectroscopic data of early-type lens systems. This allows us to break degeneracies that are inherent to each of these techniques separately and probe the mass structure of early-type galaxies from 0.1 to 100 effective radii. The large dynamic range to which lensing is sensitive allows us both to probe the clumpy substructure of these galaxies, as well as their low-density outer haloes. These methods have convincingly been demonstrated, by our team, using smaller pilot-samples of SLACS lens systems with HST data. In this proposal, we request observing time with WFC3 and NICMOS to observe 53 strong lens systems from SLACS, to obtain complete multi-color imaging for each system. This would bring the total number of SLACS lens systems to 87 with completed HST imaging and effectively doubles the known number of galaxy-scale strong lenses. The deep HST images enable us to fully exploit our new techniques, beat down low-number statistics, and probe the structure and evolution of early- type galaxies, not only with a uniform data-set an order of magnitude larger than what is available now, but also with a fully-coherent and self-consistent methodological approach!

WFC3/ACS/IR 11142

Revealing the Physical Nature of Infrared Luminous Galaxies at 0.3 0.8mJy and their mid-IR spectra have already provided the majority targets with spectroscopic redshifts (0.31 ULIRGs, as in the local Universe, (2) study the co-evolution of star formation and blackhole accretion by investigating the relations between the fraction of starburst/AGN measured from mid-IR spectra vs. HST morphologies, L(bol) and z, and (3) obtain the current best estimates of the far-IR emission, thus L(bol) for this sample, and establish if the relative contribution of mid-to-far IR dust emission is correlated with morphology (resolved vs. unresolved).

NIC2 10897

Coronagraphic imaging of the submillimeter debris disk of a 200Myr old M-dwarf

A recent sub-millimeter survey has unambiguously discovered a new debris disk around the M0.5 dwarf GJ842.2 which is 200 Myr old. Reanalysis of the IRAS data has shown that there is also a 25 micron excess toward this star indicating warm dust close to the star. It is also only the second debris disk found among M-dwarfs that constitute 70 % of the stars in the Galaxy. Collisional and Poynting-Roberston timescale arguments indicate that the cold grains detected in the sub-mm are “primordial”, i.e. original grains from the protoplanetary phase. The disk around GJ842.2 is thus unique in terms of the presence of dust at such a late stage of evolution and presents two conundrums: why did it retain so much primordial dust at large distances, and why does it continue to produce dust close to the star? We propose to conduct high contrast NICMOS coronagraphic imaging of GJ842.2 to determine the spatial distribution of the small reflecting grains and test the various scenarios which might explain the IRAS and sub-mm data e.g.resonant trapping of dust by planets or “sandblasting” by interstellar medium grains working more aggressively on a low-luminosity star than on an A-type star like Beta Pic. Also, we would search for an evolutionary sequence between GJ842.2 and the only other M-dwarf with a disk resolved by HST, the 10 Myr old AU Mic system.


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


12040 – GSAcq(1,2,1) scheduled at 283/03:37:59 – 03:45:30 failed to RGA Hold (gyro control) due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS-2

Observations affected: STIS 89 Proposal ID# 10897.

12041 – GSAcq(1,2,1) scheduled at 286/02:05:19 – 02:12:50 and REAcq(1,2,1) scheduled at 286/03:28:54 both resulted in fine lock backup (1,0,1) using FGS-1.

Observations possibly affected: STIS 10, Proposal ID# 11846 and WFC3 36-37, Proposal ID# 11202.



FGS GSAcq 40 39
FGS REAcq 21 21
OBAD with Maneuver 34 34


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