Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4952

By SpaceRef Editor
October 19, 2009
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am October 15 – 5am October 16, 2009 (DOY 288/09:00z-289/09:00z)


ACS/WFC 11840

Identifying the Host Galaxies for Optically Dark Gamma-ray Bursts

We propose to use the high spatial resolution 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.

ACS/WFC3 11599

Distances of Planetary Nebulae from SNAPshots of Resolved Companions

Reliable distances to individual planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Milky Way are needed to advance our understanding of their spatial distribution, birthrates, influence on galactic chemistry, and the luminosities and evolutionary states of their central stars (CSPN). Few PNe have good distances, however. One of the best ways to remedy this problem is to find resolved physical companions to the CSPN and measure their distances by photometric main-sequence fitting. We have previously used HST to identify and measure probable companions to 10 CSPN, based on angular separations and statistical arguments only. We now propose to use HST to re-observe 48 PNe from that program for which additional companions are possibly present. We then can use the added criterion of common proper motion to confirm our original candidate companions and identify new ones in cases that could not confidently be studied before. We will image the region around each CSPN in the V and I bands, and in some cases in the B band. Field stars that appear close to the CSPN by chance will be revealed by their relative proper motion during the 13+ years since our original survey, leaving only genuine physical companions in our improved and enlarged sample. This study will increase the number of Galactic PNe with reliable distances by 50 percent and improve the distances to Pne with previously known companions.

ACS/WFC3 11670

The Host Environments of Type Ia Supernovae in the SDSS Survey

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Supernova Survey has discovered nearly 500 type Ia supernovae and created a large, unique, and uniform sample of these cosmological tools. As part of a comprehensive study of the supernova hosts, we propose to obtain Hubble ACS images of a large fraction of these galaxies. Integrated colors and spectra will be measured from the ground, but we require high-resolution HST imaging to provide accurate morphologies and color information at the site of the explosion. This information is essential in determining the systematic effects of population age on type Ia supernova luminosities and improving their reliability in measuring dark energy. Recent studies suggest two populations of type Ia supernovae: a class that explodes promptly after star-formation and one that is delayed by billions of years. Measuring the star-formation rate at the site of the supernova from colors in the HST images may be the best way to differentiate between these classes.

COS/NUV 11896

NUV Spectroscopic Sensitivity Monitoring

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor sensitivity of each NUV grating mode to detect any changes due to contamination or other causes.

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.

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.

NIC2/WFC3/IR 11548

Infrared Imaging of Protostars in the Orion A Cloud: The Role of Environment in Star Formation

We propose NICMOS and WFC3/IR observations of a sample of 252 protostars identified in the Orion A cloud with the Spitzer Space Telescope. These observations will image the scattered light escaping the protostellar envelopes, providing information on the shapes of outflow cavities, the inclinations of the protostars, and the overall morphologies of the envelopes. In addition, we ask for Spitzer time to obtain 55-95 micron spectra of 75 of the protostars. Combining these new data with existing 3.6 to 70 micron photometry and forthcoming 5-40 micron spectra measured with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we will determine the physical properties of the protostars such as envelope density, luminosity, infall rate, and outflow cavity opening angle. By examining how these properties vary with stellar density (i.e. clusters vs. groups vs. isolation) and the properties of the surrounding molecular cloud; we can directly measure how the surrounding environment influences protostellar evolution, and consequently, the formation of stars and planetary systems. Ultimately, this data will guide the development of a theory of protostellar evolution.

STIS/CCD 11844

CCD Dark Monitor Part 1

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

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.

WFC3/IR 11618

WFC3 Observations of VeLLOs and the Youngest Star Forming Environments

The Cores-to-Disks Spitzer Legacy team has discovered a number of extremely low luminosity sources embedded deep within nearby (< 300 pc) cores previously thought to be starless. With substellar masses, these low luminosity sources represent either the youngest low-mass protostars yet detected or the first embedded brown dwarfs. In either case, they represent a new observed class of sources referred to as VeLLOs (Very Low Luminosity Objects). We propose WFC3 F160W observations of a small sample of these sources, to be combined with deep ground-based observations at Ks, to address a broad set of issues concerning VeLLOs and the environments within which they are forming. First, the morphology of their outflow cavities will be traced, yielding estimates of the inclinations and opening angles of the cavities and the evolutionary stages of the VeLLOs. Second, our observations will reveal background stars seen through the densest regions of cores harboring these VeLLOs. The color-excesses of the background stars will yield the highest angular resolution extinction maps necessary to directly probe the inner density structure of these cores, found very soon after the onset of collapse, which would constrain the initial conditions of collapse within these isolated environments. In addition, we will construct similar maps of the dense pre-protostellar core L694-2 and the protostellar core B335. These maps will provide a snapshot of the evolution of the inner density structure of a core prior to low-mass star formation and soon thereafter, for comparison with the inner density structure of cores that have formed VeLLOs. Finally, these extinction maps will enable us to determine the core "centers", or positions of peak column densities. Comparison of these centers with the positions of the VeLLOs may yield insight regarding potential differences between the formation of low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. WFC3/UV 11627 Resolving the Puzzling Nature of the Ultra-compact Binary V407 Vul Recently, three variable stars have been identified as likely accreting binary systems with ultra-short orbital periods of 10 minutes or less. This makes them the closest binaries known as well as strong sources of gravitational wave emission. These objects have thus been identified as crucial calibration sources for the LISA mission. V407 Vul diplays a 9.5 minute period at optical and X-ray wavelengths. Several different binary geometries have been proposed to explain this variable star with all but one scenario identifying the 9.5 minute period with the binary orbital period. Our time-resolved spectroscopy and photometry from the ground revealed that the optical light is dominated by a stationary G9 star which would be inconsistent with the mass donor star of a compact binary. We propose ACS/HRC imaging in order to confirm the tentative 0.03″ mis-alignment we have picked up between this G9 star and the underlying variable. Confirmation of a spatial separation between the variable and this field star would conclusively rule out that the G star is part of a low-inclination binary and thus verify it as a LISA source. In addition, we propose UV imaging that will allow us to determine the NUV luminosity of the variable star and thereby reliably infer the distance and the nature (and thus the gravitational wave signal) of the ultra-compact binary, as either mass transfer or magnetic interaction powers the X-ray source. Only HST imaging can provide rigorous proof for an ultra-compact binary interpretation for V407 Vul and thus validate it as LISA verification source WFC3/UV 11906 WFC3 UVIS CCD Gain The absolute gain of each quadrant of the WFC3 UVIS detector will be measured for the nominal detector readout configuration and at the on-orbit operating temperature. 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 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. 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). WFC3/UVIS/IR 11909 UVIS Hot Pixel Anneal The on-orbit radiation environment of WFC3 will continually generate new hot pixels. This proposal performs the procedure required for repairing those hot pixels in the UVIS CCDs. During an anneal, the two-stage thermo-electric cooler (TEC) is turned off and the four-stage TEC is used as a heater to bring the UVIS CCDs up to ~20 deg. C. As a result of the CCD warmup, a majority of the hot pixels will be fixed; previous instruments such as WFPC2 and ACS have seen repair rates of about 80%. Internal UVIS exposures are taken before and after each anneal, to allow an assessment of the procedure’s effectiveness in WFC3, provide a check of bias, global dark current, and hot pixel levels, as well as support hysteresis (bowtie) monitoring and CDBS reference file generation. One IR dark is taken after each anneal, to provide a check of the IR detector. FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY: Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.) HSTARS: (None) COMPLETED OPS REQUEST: (None) COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)

FGS GSAcq 8 8
FGS REAcq 9 9
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7


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