- Press Release
- Dec 2, 2022
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5004
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT #5004
Continuing to Collect World Class Science
PERIOD COVERED: 5am December 31, 2009 – 5am January 4, 2010 (DOY 365/10:00z-004/10:00z)
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).
IR Internal Flat Fields
This program is the same as 11433 (SMOV) and depends on the completion of the IR initial alignment (Program 11425). This version contains three instances of 37 internal orbits: to be scheduled early, middle, and near the end of Cycle 17, in order to use the entire 110-orbit allocation.
In this test, we will study the stability and structure of the IR channel flat field images through all filter elements in the WFC3-IR channel. Flats will be monitored, i.e. to capture any temporal trends in the flat fields and delta flats produced. High signal observations will provide a map of the pixel-to-pixel flat field structure, as well as identify the positions of any dust particles.
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.
UVIS Cycle 17 Contamination Monitor
The UV throughput of WFC3 during Cycle 17 is monitored via weekly standard star observations in a subset of key filters covering 200-600nm and F606W, F814W as controls on the red end. The data will provide a measure of throughput levels as a function of time and wavelength, allowing for detection of the presence of possible contaminants.
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).
ACS Internal Flat Fields
The stability of the CCD flat fields will be monitored using the calibration lamps and a sub-sample of the filter set. High signal observations will be used to assess the stability of the pixel-to-pixel flat field structure and to monitor the position of the dust motes.
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.
STIS CCD Hot Pixel Annealing
This purpose of this activity is to repair radiation induced hot pixel damage to the STIS CCD by warming the CCD to the ambient instrument temperature and annealing radiation-damaged pixels.
Radiation damage creates hot pixels in the STIS CCD Detector. Many of these hot pixels can be repaired by warming the CCD from its normal operating temperature near – 83 deg. C to the ambient instrument temperature (~ +5 deg. C) for several hours. The number of hot pixels repaired is a function of annealing temperature. The effectiveness of the CCD hot pixel annealing process is assessed by measuring the dark current behavior before and after annealing and by searching for any window contamination effects.
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.
CCD Dark Monitor Part 1
The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.
Probing HeII Reionization with GALEX-selected Quasar Sightlines and HST/COS
We propose spectroscopic observations with COS of eight z~3 QSOs that we found to be bright in the far ultraviolet. Our aim is to study intergalactic absorption caused by the onset of the He II Lyman forest. Several lines of evidence suggest that helium reionization occurred at z~3. Understanding this process is critical for a complete picture of the intergalactic medium and its evolution; it also gives clues to hydrogen reionization at z>6. The only direct means of assessing He II reionization is through far- UV observations of the He II Lyman alpha forest. Only 6 sightlines are known to date where this is feasible, despite extensive surveys. Our program is designed to double the number of available sightlines. To this effect, we cross-correlated all known z>2.73 quasars with UV source lists from the GALEX satellite. The selected quasars were all significantly detected in the far UV by GALEX, and their UV colors are similar to those of already known quasars with transparent sightlines. Spectra obtained with COS will allow us to compile the first comprehensive sample of He II absorption spectra probing similar redshifts, enabling a systematic investigation of the He II reionization epoch and the spectral shape of the UV background.
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.
A Calibration Database for Stellar Models of Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars
Studies of galaxy formation and evolution rely increasingly on the interpretation and modeling of near-infrared observations. At these wavelengths, the brightest stars are intermediate mass asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars. These stars can contribute nearly 50% of the integrated luminosity at near infrared and even optical wavelengths, particularly for the younger stellar populations characteristic of high-redshift galaxies (z>1). AGB stars are also significant sources of dust and heavy elements. Accurate modeling of AGB stars is therefore of the utmost importance.
The primary limitation facing current models is the lack of useful calibration data. Current models are tuned to match the properties of the AGB population in the Magellanic Clouds, and thus have only been calibrated in a very narrow range of sub- solar metallicities. Preliminary observations already suggest that the models are overestimating AGB lifetimes by factors of 2-3 at lower metallicities. At higher (solar) metallicities, there are no appropriate observations for calibrating the models.
We propose a WFC3/IR SNAP survey of nearby galaxies to create a large database of AGB populations spanning the full range of metallicities and star formation histories. Because of their intrinsically red colors and dusty circumstellar envelopes, tracking the numbers and bolometric fluxes of AGB stars requires the NIR observations we propose here. The resulting observations of nearby galaxies with deep ACS imaging offer the opportunity to obtain large (100-1000’s) complete samples of AGB stars at a single distance, in systems with well-constrained star formation histories and metallicities.
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.
The Parallax of the Planet Host Star XO-3
We will use HST+FGS to measure the parallax of the transiting planet host star XO 3. The resulting accurate distance measurement will provide the most accurate radius determination to date for this massive extrasolar planet (XO-3B), allowing us to critically test current giant extrasolar planet structure models. These observations will also constrain the amount of heating that may be produced inside XO-3B by tides raised on the planet as it moves through its 3.2 d-eccentric (e ~ 0.22) orbit.
The Nature of the Black Hole in a NGC 4472 Globular Cluster and the Origin of Its Broad [OIII] Emission
We propose to use STIS to obtain optical spectroscopy at high spatial resolution of the black hole-hosting globular cluster RZ2109 in the Virgo elliptical NGC 4472. This is motivated by our very recent discovery broad [OIII] 4959, 5007 emission with a width of several thousand km/s in this globular cluster. The STIS spectroscopy will enable us to determine if the very broad [OIII] emission is due to material driven at high velocity from the central accreting black hole across the globular cluster, or if the velocity widths are due to gravitational motions very close to the central black hole. In the former case, the [OIII] emission should extend over a few-tenths of an arcsecond and be spatially resolved by HST and STIS, while in the latter case, the emission lines will be unresolved. Distinguishing between these two possibilities will allow us to – 1) determine whether the black hole is of intermediate mass or a stellar mass, and thereby whether the black hole mass – sigma relation extends to globular cluster masses, 2) test models of black hole formation and evolution in dense stellar systems, and 3) address the nature of accretion in the high luminosity black-hole X-ray source, and constrain the feedback processes from luminous black holes into their surrounding medium in dense stellar systems.
Bright Galaxies at z>7.5 with a WFC3 Pure Parallel Survey
The epoch of reionization represents a special moment in the history ofthe 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.
Infrared Survey of Star Formation Across Cosmic Time
We propose to use the unique power of WFC3 slitless spectroscopy to measure the evolution of cosmic star formation from the end of the reionization epoch at z>6 to the close of the galaxy-building era at z~0.3.Pure parallel observations with the grisms have proven to be efficient for identifying line emission from galaxies across a broad range of redshifts. The G102 grism on WFC3 was designed to extend this capability to search for Ly-alpha emission from the first galaxies. Using up to 250 orbits of pure parallel WFC3 spectroscopy, we will observe about 40 deep (4-5 orbit) fields with the combination of G102 and G141, and about 20 shallow (2-3 orbit) fields with G141 alone.
Our primary science goals at the highest redshifts are: (1) Detect Lya in ~100 galaxies with z>5.6 and measure the evolution of the Lya luminosity function, independent of of cosmic variance; 2) Determine the connection between emission line selected and continuum-break selected galaxies at these high redshifts, and 3) Search for the proposed signature of neutral hydrogen absorption at re-ionization. At intermediate redshifts we will (4) Detect more than 1000 galaxies in Halpha at 0.5< z<1.8 to measure the evolution of the extinction-corrected star formation density across the peak epoch of star formation. This is over an order-of-magnitude improvement in the current statistics, from the NICMOS Parallel grism survey. (5) Trace ``cosmic downsizing" from 0.5< z<2.2; and (6) Estimate the evolution in reddening and metallicty in star-forming galaxies and measure the evolution of the Seyfert population. For hundreds of spectra we will be able to measure one or even two line pair ratios -- in particular, the Balmer decrement and [OII]/[OIII] are sensitive to gas reddening and metallicity. As a bonus, the G102 grism offers the possibility of detecting Lya emission at z=7-8.8. To identify single-line Lya emitters, we will exploit the wide 0.8–1.9um wavelength coverage of the combined G102+G141 spectra. All [OII] and [OIII] interlopers detected in G102 will be reliably separated from true LAEs by the detection of at least one strong line in the G141 spectrum, without the need for any ancillary data. We waive all proprietary rights to our data and will make high-level data products available through the ST/ECF. 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/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. WFC3/ACS/UVIS 11613 GHOSTS: Stellar Outskirts of Massive Spiral Galaxies We propose to continue our highly successful GHOSTS HST survey of the resolved stellar populations of nearby, massive disk galaxies using SNAPs. These observations provide star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 2-3 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch of the outer disk and halo of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~32 V-mag per square arcsec. This proposal will substantially improve our unique sampling of galaxy outskirts. Our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, inclination, and morphology. As a function of these galaxy properties, this survey provides: – the most extensive, systematic measurement of radial light profiles and axial ratios of the diffuse stellar halos and outer disks of spiral galaxies; – a comprehensive analysis of halo metallicity distributions as function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy; – an unprecedented study of the stellar metallicity and age distribution in the outer disk regions where the disk truncations occur; – the first comparative study of globular clusters and their field stellar populations. We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process to test halo formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme. 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. 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. 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. COS/FUV 11541 COS-GTO: Cool, Warm, and Hot Gas in the Cosmic Web and in Galaxy Halos COS G130M and G160M 20, 000 resolution observations will be obtained for 17 QSOs to study cool, warm and hot gas in the cosmic web and in galaxy halos. 5 QSOs with z from 0.177 to 0.574 and sum z = 1.68 will be observed with S/N = 40-50 per resolution element. 12 QSOs with z = 0.286 to 0.669 and sum z = 5.57 will be observed with S/N = 30-40. The observations will allow a wide range of IGM studies including determining the frequency of occurrence of the different types of absorption systems detected, along with studies of the physical conditions and elemental abundances in the different systems. Special emphasis will be given to a study of the properties of highly ionized IGM as traced by O VI, O V, O IV, N V, and C IV. The high S/N of the observations will allow a search for broad Lyman alpha absorption and weak metal line absorption that can be crucial for the evaluation of physical conditions and elemental abundances. Supporting ground based observations will allow studies of the association of the absorbers with galaxy structures along the 17 lines of sight. The overall goal of the program will be to obtain the information that will allow an assessment of the baryonic content of the IGM as revealed by UV and EUV absorption lines seen in the spectra of QSOs. COS/NUV/FUV 11522 COS-GTO: Star Formation/Lyman-Alpha A sample of 20 star-forming galaxies will be observed with COS G130M. The galaxies were selected from the Kitt Peak International Spectroscopic Survey (KISSR) data release and cover a broad range of luminosity, oxygen abundance, and reddening. The goal of the program is to characterize the Lyman-alpha properties and establish correlations with fundamental galaxy properties. Each galaxy will be observed for one orbit. WFC3/ACS/UVIS 11360 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/ACS/IR 11235 HST NICMOS Survey of the Nuclear Regions of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe At luminosities above 10^11.4 L_sun, the space density of far-infrared selected galaxies exceeds that of optically selected galaxies. These `luminous infrared galaxies’ (LIRGs) are primarily interacting or merging disk galaxies undergoing enhanced star formation and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) activity, possibly triggered as the objects transform into massive S0 and elliptical merger remnants. We propose NICMOS NIC2 imaging of the nuclear regions of a complete sample of 88 L_IR > 10^11.4 L_sun luminous infrared galaxies in the IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample (RBGS: i.e., 60 micron flux density > 5.24 Jy). This sample is ideal not only in its completeness and sample size, but also in the proximity and brightness of the galaxies. The superb sensitivity and resolution of NICMOS NIC2 on HST enables a unique opportunity to study the detailed structure of the nuclear regions, where dust obscuration may mask star clusters, AGN, and additional nuclei from optical view, with a resolution significantly higher than possible with Spitzer IRAC. This survey thus provides a crucial component to our study of the dynamics and evolution of IR galaxies presently underway with Wide-Field, HST ACS/WFC3, and Spitzer IRAC observations of these 88 galaxies. Imaging will be done with the F160W filter (H-band) to examine as a function of both luminosity and merger stage: (i) the luminosity and distribution of embedded star clusters, (ii) the presence of optically obscured AGN and nuclei, (iii) the correlation between the distribution of 1.6 micron emission and the mid-IR emission as detected by Spitzer IRAC, (iv) the evidence of bars or bridges that may funnel fuel into the nuclear region, and (v) the ages of star clusters for which photometry is available via ACS/WFC3 observations. The NICMOS data, combined with the HST ACS, Spitzer, and GALEX observations of this sample, will result in the most comprehensive study of merging and interacting galaxies to date.
Probing the Early Universe with GRBs
Cosmology is beginning to constrain the nature of the earliest stars and galaxies to form in the Universe, but direct observation of galaxies at z>6 remains highly challenging due to their scarcity, intrinsically small size, and high luminosity distance. GRB afterglows, thanks to their extreme luminosities, offer the possibility of circumventing these normal constraints by providing redshifts and spectral information which couldn’t be obtained through direct observation of the host galaxies themselves. In addition, the association of GRBs with massive stars means that they are an indicator of star formation, and that their hosts are likely responsible for a large proportion of the ionizing radiation during that era. Our collaboration is conducting a campaign to rapidly identify and study candidate very high redshift bursts, bringing to bear a network of 2, 4 and 8m telescopes with near-IR instrumentation. Swift has proven capable of detecting faint, distant GRBs, and reporting accurate positions for many bursts in near real-time. Here we propose to continue our HST program of targeting GRBs at z~6 and above. HST is crucial to this endeavor, allowing us (a) to characterize the basic properties, such as luminosity and color, and in some cases morphologies, of the hosts, which is essential to understanding these primordial galaxies and their relationship to other galaxy populations; and (b) to monitor the late time afterglows and hence compare them to lower-z bursts and test the use of GRBs as standard candles.
Characterizing the Stellar Populations in Lyman-Alpha Emitters and Lyman Break Galaxies at 5.7< z<7 in the Subaru Deep Field The epoch of reionization marks a major phase transition of the Universe, during which the intergalactic space became transparent to UV photons. Determining when this occurred and the physical processes involved represents the latest frontier in observational cosmology. Over the last few years, searches have intensified to identify the population of high-redshift (z>6) galaxies that might be responsible for this process, but the progress is hampered partly by the difficulty of obtaining physical information (stellar mass, age, star formation rate/history) for individual sources. This is because the number of z>6 galaxies that have both secure spectroscopic redshifts and high-quality infrared photometry (especially with Spitzer/IRAC) is still fairly small. Considering that only several photometric points are available per source, and that many model SEDs are highly degenerate, it is crucial to obtain as many observational constraints as possible for each source to ensure the validity of SED modeling. To better understand the physical properties of high-redshift galaxies, we propose here to conduct HST/NICMOS (72 orbits) and Spitzer/IRAC (102 hours) imaging of spectroscopically confirmed, bright (z<26 mag (AB)) Ly-alpha emitters (LAEs) and Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs) at 5.7< z<7 selected from the Subaru Deep Field. Spectroscopic redshifts remove one critical free parameter from SED modeling while bright source magnitudes ensure high-quality photometric data. By making accurate determinations of stellar masses, ages, and star-formation histories, we will specifically address the following major questions: (1) Do LAEs and LBGs represent physically different galaxy populations at z>6 as suggested recently? (2) Is Ly-alpha emission systematically suppressed at z>6 with respect to continuum emission? (i.e., are we reaching the epoch of incomplete reionization?), and (3) Do we see any sign of abnormally young stellar population in any of the z>6 galaxies?
FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:
Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)
#12148 GSAcq(1,2,1) @2010/002/11:45:50z failed due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS1.
Observations affected: WFC3 #200-201 Proposal #11644, WFC3 #202 Proposal #11929
#12150 GSAcq(1,2,1) @2010/003/07:21:19z and REAcqs @003/08:58:27z, 003/10:34:21z, 003/12:10:15z and 003/13:46:09z result in fine lock backup on FGS1.
Observations possibly affected: COS #111-114 Proposal #11742, WFC3 #223-227 Proposal #11696, STIS #46-47 Proposal #11849, STIS #48 Proposal #11844
#12152 GSAcq(1,2,1) @2010/003/15:22:27z and REAcqs @003/16:57:25z, 003/18:33:23z and 003/20:09:21z resulted in fine lock backup (1,0,1)
Observations possibly affected: COS #115-130 Proposal #11541, STIS #49 Proposal #11844, STIS #50-52 Proposal #11846, WFC3 #228-231 Proposal #11541
COMPLETED OPS REQUEST: (None)
COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)
FGS GSAcq 29 28
FGS REAcq 35 35
OBAD with Maneuver 25 25
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: (None)