Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4999

By SpaceRef Editor
December 26, 2009
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: 5am December 23 – 5am December 24, 2009 (DOY 357/10:00z-358/10:00z)


ACS/WFC3 11138

The Physics of the Jets of Powerful Radio Galaxies and Quasars

We propose to obtain HST polarimetry of the jets of the quasars 1150+497 and PKS 1136-135. Our goal is to solve the riddle of their high-energy emission mechanism, and tackle issues such as particle acceleration and jet dynamics. Our targets are the optically brightest quasar jets, and they span the range of luminosities and beaming parameters seen in these objects. Recent observations with Spitzer, HST and Chandra have shed new light on the spectral morphology of quasar jets, throwing wide open the question of the nature of their optical and X-ray emission. Three mechanisms are possible, including synchrotron emission as well as two Comptonization processes. Polarimetry can uniquely determine which of these mechanisms operates in the optical. We will compare the optical polarimetry to in-hand radio polarimetry as well as in-hand and new Spitzer, HST and Chandra imaging to gain new insights on the structure of these jets, as well as particle acceleration mechanisms and jet dynamics.

ACS/WFC3 11782

Measuring the Shape and Orientation of the Galactic Dark-Matter Halo using Hypervelocity Stars

We propose to obtain high-resolution images of five hypervelocity stars in the Galactic halo in order to establish the first-epoch astrometric frame for them, as a part of a long- term program to measure precise proper motions. The origin of these recently discovered stars, all with positive radial velocities above 540 km/s, is consistent only with being ejected from the deep potential well of the massive black hole at the Galactic center. The deviations of their space motions from purely radial trajectories probe the departures from spherical symmetry of the Galactic potential, mainly due to the triaxiality of the dark-matter halo. Reconstructing the full three dimensional space motion of the hypervelocity stars, through astrometric proper motions, provides a unique opportunity to measure the shape and orientation of the dark halo. The hypervelocity stars allow measurement of the potential up to 75 kpc from the center, independently of and at larger distances than are afforded by tidal streams of satellite galaxies such as the Sagittarius dSph galaxy. HVS3 may be associated with the LMC, rather then the Galactic center, and would therefore present a case for a supermassive black hole at the center of the LMC. We request one orbit with ACS/WFC for each of the five hypervelocity stars to establish their current positions relative to background galaxies. We will request a repeated observation of these stars in Cycle 17, which will conclusively measure the astrometric proper motions.

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.

FGS 11871

Long Term Stability of FGS1R in Position Mode

This proposal resumes the Long Term Monitoring of FGS1R in Position Mode using stars in M35 that are a subset of the FGS “OFAD catalog” using both the “fall” and “spring” seasons (the spring orient was not available under two gyro mode). The data acquired by this proposal are used to update the FGS1R “rhoA & kA” parameters that are associated with the OFAD solution that is applicable at the observation’s epoch. These values are critical to support sub-milli arcsecond astrometry with FGS1R.

This particular proposal also include a FGS3 visit to M35 for post SM4 verification of its calibration status.

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.


Star Formation in Nearby Galaxies

Star formation is a fundamental astrophysical process; it controls phenomena ranging from the evolution of galaxies and nucleosynthesis to the origins of planetary systems and abodes for life. The WFC3, optimized at both UV and IR wavelengths and equipped with an extensive array of narrow-band filters, brings unique capabilities to this area of study. The WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC) proposes an integrated program on star formation in the nearby universe which will fully exploit these new abilities. Our targets range from the well-resolved R136 in 30 Dor in the LMC (the nearest super star cluster) and M82 (the nearest starbursting galaxy) to about half a dozen other nearby galaxies that sample a wide range of star-formation rates and environments. Our program consists of broad band multiwavelength imaging over the entire range from the UV to the near-IR, aimed at studying the ages and metallicities of stellar populations, revealing young stars that are still hidden by dust at optical wavelengths, and showing the integrated properties of star clusters. Narrow-band imaging of the same environments will allow us to measure star-formation rates, gas pressure, chemical abundances, extinction, and shock morphologies. The primary scientific issues to be addressed are: (1) What triggers star formation? (2) How do the properties of star-forming regions vary among different types of galaxies and environments of different gas densities and compositions? (3) How do these different environments affect the history of star formation? (4) Is the stellar initial mass function universal or determined by local conditions?

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 11644

A Dynamical-Compositional Survey of the Kuiper Belt: A New Window Into the Formation of the Outer Solar System

The eight planets overwhelmingly dominate the solar system by mass, but their small numbers, coupled with their stochastic pasts, make it impossible to construct a unique formation history from the dynamical or compositional characteristics of them alone. In contrast, the huge numbers of small bodies scattered throughout and even beyond the planets, while insignificant by mass, provide an almost unlimited number of probes of the statistical conditions, history, and interactions in the solar system. To date, attempts to understand the formation and evolution of the Kuiper Belt have largely been dynamical simulations where a hypothesized starting condition is evolved under the gravitational influence of the early giant planets and an attempt is made to reproduce the current observed populations. With little compositional information known for the real Kuiper Belt, the test particles in the simulation are free to have any formation location and history as long as they end at the correct point. Allowing compositional information to guide and constrain the formation, thermal, and collisional histories of these objects would add an entire new dimension to our understanding of the evolution of the outer solar system. While ground based compositional studies have hit their flux limits already with only a few objects sampled, we propose to exploit the new capabilities of WFC3 to perform the first ever large-scale dynamical-compositional study of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and their progeny to study the chemical, dynamical, and collisional history of the region of the giant planets. The sensitivity of the WFC3 observations will allow us to go up to two magnitudes deeper than our ground based studies, allowing us the capability of optimally selecting a target list for a large survey rather than simply taking the few objects that can be measured, as we have had to do to date. We have carefully constructed a sample of 120 objects which provides both overall breadth, for a general understanding of these objects, plus a large enough number of objects in the individual dynamical subclass to allow detailed comparison between and within these groups. These objects will likely define the core Kuiper Belt compositional sample for years to come. While we have many specific results anticipated to come from this survey, as with any project where the field is rich, our current knowledge level is low, and a new instrument suddenly appears which can exploit vastly larger segments of the population, the potential for discovery — both anticipated and not — is extraordinary.


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 7 7
OBAD with Maneuver 5 7


SpaceRef staff editor.