Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4971

By SpaceRef Editor
November 16, 2009
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am November 12 – 5am November 13, 2009 (DOY 316/10:00z-317/10:00z)


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.


Studying Cepheid Systematics in M81: H-band Observations

The local value of the Hubble Constant remains one of the most important constraints in cosmology, but improving on the 10% accuracy of the HST Key Project is challenging. No improvements will be convincing until the metallicity dependence is well constrained and blending effects are fully understood. M81 and its dwarf companion Holmberg IX are superb laboratories for studying Cepheid systematics because they contain large numbers of bright Cepheids with a good spread in metallicity lying at a common, relatively close distance. We have identified 180 12< P< 70 day Cepheids in these two galaxies using the Large Binocular Telescope (compared to 30 in total by the KP), and will expand the sample further in 2008-2009. We will use 10 orbits with WFC3/IR to obtain H-band images of 100 Cepheids in M81 to add to the ACS/BVI calibrations we will obtain from archival data and 1 orbit with WFC3/UVIS to add B-band data for Holmberg IX. Four band BVIH photometry will allow us to flux calibrate, estimate extinction, measure metallicity effects and then check the results in detail. We can also examine blending effects on WFC3/IR data in a relatively nearby galaxy before it is applied to more distant galaxies. Our M81 sample is three times larger than the next best sample, that of NGC4258, and suffers less from blending because M81 is at half the distance, so it is an excellent laboratory for studying Cepheid systematics even if it lacks as precise a geometric distance as NGC4258. WFC3/UV 11643 A Timeline for Early-Type Galaxy Formation: Mapping the Evolution of Star Formation, Globular Clusters, Dust, and Black Holes While considerable effort has been devoted to statistical studies of the origin of the red sequence of galaxies, there has been relatively little direct exploration of galaxies transforming from late to early types. Such galaxies are identified by their post-starburst spectra, bulge-dominated, tidally-disturbed morphologies, and current lack of gas. We are constructing the first detailed timeline of their evolution onto the red sequence, pinpointing when star formation ends, nuclear activity ceases, globular clusters form, and the bulk of the merging progenitors’ dust disappears. Here we propose to obtain HST and Chandra imaging of nine galaxies, whose wide range of post-starburst ages we have precisely dated with a new UV-optical technique and for which we were awarded Spitzer time. We will address 1) whether the black hole-bulge mass relation arises from nuclear feedback, 2) whether the bimodality of globular cluster colors is due to young clusters produced in galaxy mergers, and 3) what happens to the dust when late types merge to form an early type. WFC3/UV 11646 Light Echoes as Probes of Supernova Type Ia Environments Environmental factors of Type Ia supernovae are key in understanding their nature, lightcurve evolution, and utility as cosmological standard candles. The progenitor ages (and many other properties) are bimodal, differing by roughly an order of magnitude. Is this reflected as well in the differences in their immediate surroundings in terms of gas and dust? The most powerful and direct way to address this issue is by imaging the reflected light from the dust itself via a light echo. In order for this approach to work, however, one must start imaging the vicinity of the supernova frequently and soon after the explosion is seen. We propose to maintain the imaging sequences crucial for understanding the three-dimensional dust distribution of two recent and key Type Ia supernovae, in a timely manner that will prevent otherwise significant holes in our knowledge. These observations are likely to be important in determining if the interstellar versus the circumstellar environments are more important in determining the appearance of Type Ia explosions, and thereby offer a clue as to the poorly-understood mass-loss history of SN Ia progenitors. WFC3/UV 11730 Continued Proper Motions of the Magellanic Clouds: Orbits, Internal Kinematics, and Distance 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. The results had a number of unexpected implications for the Milky Way-LMC-SMC system and received considerable attention in the literature and in the press. The implied three-dimensional velocities are larger than previously believed and close to the escape velocity in a standard 10^12 solar mass Milky Way dark halo. Our orbit calculations suggest the Clouds may not be bound to the Milky Way or may just be on their first passage, both of which are unexpected in view of traditional interpretations of the Magellanic Stream. Alternatively, the Milky Way dark halo may be a factor 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 was 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 requested an additional epoch data in Cycle 16 which is being executed with WFPC2/PC due to the failure of ACS. A detailed analysis of one LMC field shows that the field proper motion using all three epochs of data is consistent within 1-sigma with the two-epoch data, thus verifying that there are no major systematic effects in our previous measurements. The random errors, however, are only smaller by a factor of 1.4 because of the relatively large errors in the WFPC2 data. A prediction for a fourth epoch with measurement errors similar to epochs 1 and 2 shows that the uncertainties will improve by a factor of 3. This will allow us to 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 to determine a distance to the LMC using rotational parallax. Continuation of this highly successful program is therefore likely to provide important additional insights. Execution in SNAPshot mode guarantees maximally efficient use of HST resources. WFC3/UV 11801 Black Holes in Globular Clusters Search for >3000 solar mass black holes at the centers of three Galactic globular clusters using stellar proper motions.

WFC3/UV/IR 11573

Investigating Post-Equinox Atmospheric Changes on Uranus

Uranus is now past its 7 December 2007 equinox. The large seasonal phase shift expected from its long radiative time constant implies that it should now be in the process of reversing its hemispheric asymmetries in cloud band structure and zonal circulation. Many changes already observed — the development of the first visible-wavelength dark spot, discovered in Cycle 15, the fading of the south polar cap, and the development of a new northern bright band while the southern band fades — may all be indicative of the expected reversal. We propose a detailed characterization of Uranus’ current seasonal response with a 9-orbit program consisting of 3 orbits of WFC3 imaging of cloud bands and dark spots, and 6 orbits of high signal-to-noise imaging using the F845M filter, capable of tracking bright discrete cloud features. Filters between 0.467 and 1.7 microns will provide vertical sensing depths scanning through the pressure range where the putative methane and deeper H2S clouds might plausibly exist and provide strong constraints on their contributions and parent gas mixing ratios. These observations have unique combinations of spectral range and resolution with needed temporal sampling and spatial resolution not available from groundbased observations.

WFC3/UV/S/S 11938

UVIS Stray Light

Structures outside the optical path of the detector FOV and the surfaces of optical elements could scatter significant light from bright sources onto the UVIS CCD. Such structures are oversized by typically a few mm relative to the FOV?s beam. The beam footprint of a source outside the FOV can overlap the edges of those structures, which will cause light to be scattered onto the detector. This on orbit test will: 1) verify that release of gravitational stress has not changed the detector mask by comparison with similar ground tests, 2) assess the far wing stray light from a sources outside the CCD FOV, 3) note any sources of stray light in the near and far field that were not noted during ground test, and 4) assess the surface brightness of the off-chip target PSF relative to the on-chip PSF.

WFC3/UVIS 11732

The Temperature Profiles of Quasar Accretion Disks

We can now routinely measure the size of quasar accretion disks using gravitational microlensing of lensed quasars. At optical wavelengths we observe a size and scaling with black hole mass roughly consistent with thin disk theory but the sizes are larger than expected from the observed optical fluxes. One solution would be to use a flatter temperature profile, which we can study by measuring the wavelength dependence of the disk size over the largest possible wavelength baseline. Thus, to understand the size discrepancy and to probe closer to the inner edge of the disk we need to extend our measurements to UV wavelengths, and this can only be done with HST. For example, in the UV we should see significant changes in the optical/UV size ratio with black hole mass. We propose monitoring 5 lenses spanning a broad range of black hole masses with well-sampled ground based light curves, optical disk size measurements and known GALEX UV fluxes during Cycles 17 and 18 to expand from our current sample of two lenses. We would obtain 5 observations of each target in each Cycle, similar to our successful strategy for the first two targets.

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)


18755-0 – Execute TimeTag GenSlew (ROP NS-08) for prop 11572 @ 317/0000z


FGS GSAcq 10 10
FGS REAcq 04 04
OBAD with Maneuver 06 06


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