Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4993

By SpaceRef Editor
December 22, 2009
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4993

PERIOD COVERED: 5am December 15 – 5am December 16, 2009 (DOY 349/10:00z-350/10:00z)


ACS/WFC3/SBC 11564

Optical and Ultraviolet Photometry of Isolated Neutron Stars

We propose ultraviolet and B-band observations of 5 nearby, thermally emitting neutron stars. These data will measure the Rayleigh-Jeans tails of their spectra, providing a vital complement to X-ray spectroscopy and helping to constrain atmospheric models, working toward the ultimate goal of unraveling the physics of neutron stars. With these data we will have good-quality optical and UV data for the full sample of these objects, allowing detailed comparisons between them. Finally, the data should allow us to measure proper motions for one or two objects, and will serve as the reference data for the remaining objects; such proper motions allow ages to be determined for these objects by tracing them back to likely birth locations.

COS/FUV 11625

Beyond the Classical Paradigm of Stellar Winds: Investigating Clumping, Rotation and the Weak Wind Problem in SMC O Stars

SMC O stars provide an unrivaled opportunity to probe star formation, evolution, and the feedback of massive stars in an environment similar to the epoch of the peak in star formation history. Two recent breakthroughs in the study of hot, massive stars have important consequences for understanding the chemical enrichment and buildup of stellar mass in the Universe. The first is the realization that rotation plays a major role in influencing the evolution of massive stars and their feedback on the surrounding environment. The second is a drastic downward revision of the mass loss rates of massive stars coming from an improved description of their winds. STIS spectroscopy of SMC O stars combined with state-of-the-art NLTE analyses has shed new light on these two topics. A majority of SMC O stars reveal CNO-cycle processed material brought at their surface by rotational mixing. Secondly, the FUV wind lines of early O stars provide strong indications of the clumped nature of their wind. Moreover, we first drew attention to some late-O dwarfs showing extremely weak wind signatures. Consequently, we have derived mass loss rates from STIS spectroscopy that are significantly lower than the current theoretical predictions used in evolutionary models. Because of the limited size of the current sample (and some clear bias toward stars with sharp-lined spectra), these results must however be viewed as tentative. Thanks to the high efficiency of COS in the FUV range, we propose now to obtain high-resolution FUV spectra with COS of a larger sample of SMC O stars to study systematically rotation and wind properties of massive stars at low metallicity. The analysis of the FUV wind lines will be based on our 2D extension of CMFGEN to model axi-symmetric rotating winds.


FUV/X-Ray Absorption and Emission Line Spectroscopy of the Galactic Corona

The Galactic corona is believed to play an essential role in the ?ecosystem” of the Galaxy. But the extent and ionization state as well as the physical properties of the corona are yet to be determined. We request COS/HST observations to sample the intervening gas through the line absorptions of CIV, NV, SiIV, OI, SII, SiII, and FeII along the LMC X-3 sight line, toward which we have already detected OVI, OVII, and NeIX absorption lines and NVII, OVII, OVIII, and NeIX emission lines with FUSE, Chandra, and Suzaku observations. We have developed a software tool to jointly analyze the far-UV/X-ray absorption and emission spectra. The requested observations will not only allow us to rigorously test our preliminary results based on the existing observations, but also enable us to examine various models (e.g., diffuse hot gas vs. conductive layers) and to constrain the spatial and thermal properties of the hot gas over a broad temperature range. The results will provide a unique calibration of our understanding of the corona.

FGS 11788

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.

S/C 12046

COS FUV DCE Memory Dump

Whenever the FUV detector high voltage is on, count rate and current draw information is collected, monitored, and saved to DCE memory. Every 10 msec the detector samples the currents from the HV power supplies (HVIA, HVIB) and the AUX power supply (AUXI). The last 1000 samples are saved in memory, along with a histogram of the number of occurrences of each current value.

In the case of a HV transient (known as a “crackle” on FUSE), where one of these currents exceeds a preset threshold for a persistence time, the HV will shut down, and the DCE memory will be dumped and examined as part of the recovery procedure. However, if the current exceeds the threshold for less than the persistence time (a “mini-crackle” in FUSE parlance), there is no way to know without dumping DCE memory. By dumping and examining the histograms regularly, we will be able to monitor any changes in the rate of “mini-crackles” and thus learn something about the state of the detector.

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/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 11903

UVIS Photometric Zero Points

This proposal obtains the photometric zero points in 53 of the 62 UVIS/WFC3 filters: the 18 broad-band filters, 8 medium-band filters, 16 narrow-band filters, and 11 of the 20 quad filters (those being used in cycle 17). The observations will be primary obtained by observing the hot DA white dwarf standards GD153 and G191-B2B. A redder secondary standard, P330E, will be observed in a subset of the filters to provide color corrections. Repeat observations in 16 of the most widely used cycle 17 filters will be obtained once per month for the first three months, and then once every second month for the duration of cycle 17, alternating and depending on target availability. These observations will enable monitoring of the stability of the photometric system. Photometric transformation equations will be calculated by comparing the photometry of stars in two globular clusters, 47 Tuc and NGC 2419, to previous measurements with other telescopes/instruments.

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 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/IR 11700

Bright Galaxies at z>7.5 with a WFC3 Pure Parallel Survey

The epoch of reionization represents a special moment in the history of the Universe as it is during this era that the first galaxies and star clusters are formed. Reionization also profoundly affects the environment where subsequent generations of galaxies evolve. Our overarching goal is to test the hypothesis that galaxies are responsible for reionizing neutral hydrogen. To do so we propose to carry out a pure parallel WFC3 survey to constrain the bright end of the redshift z>7.5 galaxy luminosity function on a total area of 176 arcmin^2 of sky. Extrapolating the evolution of the luminosity function from z~6, we expect to detect about 20 Lyman Break Galaxies brighter than M_* at z~8 significantly improving the current sample of only a few galaxies known at these redshifts. Finding significantly fewer objects than predicted on the basis of extrapolation from z=6 would set strong limits to the brightness of M_*, highlighting a fast evolution of the luminosity function with the possible implication that galaxies alone cannot reionize the Universe. Our observations will find the best candidates for spectroscopic confirmation, that is bright z>7.5 objects, which would be missed by small area deeper surveys. The random pointing nature of the program is ideal to beat cosmic variance, especially severe for luminous massive galaxies, which are strongly clustered. In fact our survey geometry of 38 independent fields will constrain the luminosity function like a contiguous single field survey with two times more area at the same depth. Lyman Break Galaxies at z>7.5 down to m_AB=26.85 (5 sigma) in F125W will be selected as F098M dropouts, using three to five orbits visits that include a total of four filters (F606W, F098M, F125W, F160W) optimized to remove low-redshift interlopers and cool stars. Our data will be highly complementary to a deep field search for high-z galaxies aimed at probing the faint end of the luminosity function, allowing us to disentangle the degeneracy between faint end slope and M_* in a Schechter function fit of the luminosity function. We waive proprietary rights for the data. In addition, we commit to release the coordinates and properties of our z>7.5 candidates within one month from the acquisition of each field.


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 7 7
FGS REAcq 10 10
OBAD with Maneuver 5 5


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