Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4962

By SpaceRef Editor
October 30, 2009
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4962


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am October 29 – 5am October 30, 2009 (DOY 302/09:00z-303/09:00z)


ACS/WFC 11689

Direct Observations of Dark Matter from a Second Bullet: The Spectacular Abell 2744

Vigorous cluster mergers provide a unique opportunity to directly “see” dark matter and to probe its properties through the analysis of the segregation of the baryonic and non-baryonic components. This is accomplished through detailed comparison of the mass distributions as traced by X-ray emitting gas and by gravitational lensing. This condition is rare and so far only one cluster has met these requirements, the so-called “bullet” cluster, producing exciting results and placing constraints to the properties of dark matter. These constraints have a broad impact on models for formation of structure and on galaxy evolution. This multi-wavelength analysis has the potential confront alternative gravity models such as MOND. Therefore, it is crucial to find new bullet clusters to corroborate and improve previous measurements. This is the most direct way to constrain dark matter properties and A2744 is ideal for corroborating this study since it maximizes all the requirements for this analysis. Here, we propose to carry out such analysis through combined ACS and Chandra observations of the cluster merger Abell 2744.

COS/NUV 11900

NUV Internal/External Wavelength Scale Monitor

This program monitors the offsets between the wavelength scale set by the internal wavecal versus that defined by absorption lines in external targets. This is accomplished by observing two external radial velocity standard targets: HD187691 with G225M and G285M and HD6655 with G285M and G230L. The two standard targets have little flux in the wavelength range covered by G185M and so Feige 48 (sdO) is observed with this grating. Both Feige 48 and HD6655 are also observed in SMOV. The cenwaves observed in this program are a subset of the ones used during Cycle 17. Observing all cenwaves would require a considerably larger number of orbits. Constraints on scheduling of each target are placed so that each target is observed once every ~2-3 months. Observing the three targets every month would also require a considerably larger number of orbits.

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 11606

Dynamical Hypermassive Black Hole Masses

We will use STIS spectra to derive the masses of 5 hypermassive black holes (HMBHs). From the observed scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids, these objects are expected to reside at the nuclei of host galaxies with stellar velocity dispersions greater than 320 km/s. These 5 targets have confirmed regular gas distributions on the scales of the black hole sphere of influence. It is essential that the sphere of influence is resolved for accurate determinations of black hole mass (0.1″). These scales cannot be effectively observed from the ground. Only two HMBHs have had their masses modeled so far; it is impossible to draw any general conclusions about the connections between HMBH mass and their massive host galaxies. With these 5 targets we will determine whether these HMBHs deviate from the scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids. A larger sample will allow us to firmly anchor the high mass end of the correlation between black hole mass and stellar velocity dispersion, and other scaling relations. Therefore we are also conducting a SNAPshot program with which we expect to detect a further 24 HMBH candidates for STIS observation in future cycles. At the completion of this project we will have populated the high mass end of the scaling relations with the sample sizes enjoyed by less massive spheroids.

STIS/CCD 11653

SAINTS – Supernova 1987A INTensive Survey

SAINTS is a program to observe SN 1987A, the brightest supernova since 1604, as it matures into the youngest supernova remnant at age 21. HST is the essential tool for resolving SN1987A’s many physical components. A violent encounter is underway between the fastest-moving debris and the circumstellar ring: shocks excite “hotspots.” Radio, optical, infrared and X-ray fluxes have been rising rapidly: we have organized Australia Telescope, HST, VLT, Spitzer, and Chandra observations to understand the several emission mechanisms at work. Photons from the shocked ring will excite previously invisible gas outside the ring, revealing the true extent of the mass loss that preceded the explosion of Sanduleak -69 202. This will help test ideas for the progenitor of SN 1987A. The inner debris, excited by radioactive isotopes from the explosion, is now resolved and seen to be aspherical, providing direct evidence on the shape of the explosion itself. Questions about SN 1987A remain unanswered. A rich and unbroken data set from SAINTS will help answer these central questions and will build an archive for the future to help answer questions we have not yet thought to ask.

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.


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.

WFC3/UVIS 11565

A Search for Astrometric Companions to Very Low-Mass, Population II Stars

We propose to carry out a Snapshot search for astrometric companions in a subsample of very low-mass, halo subdwarfs identified within 120 parsecs of the Sun. These ultra-cool M subdwarfs are local representatives of the lowest-mass H burning objects from the Galactic Population II. The expected 3-4 astrometric doubles that will be discovered will be invaluable in that they will be the first systems from which gravitational masses of metal-poor stars at the bottom of the main sequence can be directly measured.

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 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.

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).


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 11 11
FGS REAcq 06 06
OBAD with Maneuver 06 06


SpaceRef staff editor.