Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5006

By SpaceRef Editor
January 8, 2010
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PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 5 – 5am January 6, 2010 (DOY 005/10:00z-006/10:00z)



Probing Warm-Hot Intergalactic Gas at 0.5 < z < 1.3 with a Blind Survey for O VI, Ne VIII, Mg X, and Si XII Absorption Systems Currently we can only account for half of the baryons (or less) expected to be found in the nearby universe based on D/H and CMB observations. This “missing baryons problem” is one of the highest-priority challenges in observational extragalatic astronomy. Cosmological simulations suggest that the baryons are hidden in low-density, shock-heated intergalactic gas in the log T = 5 – 7 range, but intensive UV and X-ray surveys using O VI, O VII, and O VIII absorption lines have not yet confirmed this prediction. We propose to use COS to carry out a sensitive survey for Ne VIII and Mg X absorption in the spectra of nine QSOs at z(QSO) > 0.89. For the three highest-redshift QSOs, we will also search for Si XII. This survey will provide more robust constraints on the quantity of baryons in warm-hot intergalactic gas at 0.5 < z < 1.3, and the data will provide rich constraints on the metal enrichment, physical conditions, and nature of a wide variety of QSO absorbers in addition to the warm-hot systems. By comparing the results to other surveys at lower redshifts (with STIS, FUSE, and from the COS GTO programs), the project will also enable the first study of how these absorbers evolve with redshift at z < 1. By combining the program with follow-up galaxy redshift surveys, we will also push the study of galaxy-absorber relationships to higher redshifts, with an emphasis on the distribution of the WHIM with respect to the large-scale matter distribution of the universe. NIC2/WFC3/IR 11219 Active Galactic Nuclei in Nearby Galaxies: A New View of the Origin of the Radio-Loud Radio-Quiet Dichotomy? Using archival HST and Chandra observations of 34 nearby early-type galaxies (drawn from a complete radio selected sample) we have found evidence that the radio- loud/radio-quiet dichotomy is directly connected to the structure of the inner regions of their host galaxies in the following sense: [1] Radio-loud AGN are associated with galaxies with shallow cores in their light profiles [2] Radio-quiet AGN are only hosted by galaxies with steep cusps. Since the brightness profile is determined by the galaxy’s evolution, through its merger history, our results suggest that the same process sets the AGN flavor. This provides us with a novel tool to explore the co-evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes, and it opens a new path to understand the origin of the radio-loud/radio-quiet AGN dichotomy. Currently our analysis is statistically incomplete as the brightness profile is not available for 82 of the 116 targets. Most galaxies were not observed with HST, while in some cases the study is obstructed by the presence of dust features. We here propose to perform an infrared NICMOS snapshot survey of these 82 galaxies. This will enable us to i) test the reality of the dichotomic behavior in a substantially larger sample; ii) extend the comparison between radio-loud and radio- quiet AGN to a larger range of luminosities. 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. STIS/CCD/MA1 11817 Detecting the Upper Atmosphere of a Transiting Hot Neptune: A Feasibility Study Atmospheric escape is a phenomenon that shapes planetary atmospheres, from telluric planets in the Solar System to extrasolar ‘hot Jupiters’. It dramatically enhances the detectability of a heavily irradiated hydrogen atmosphere, providing the planet is transiting its star and the transits are observed in the ultraviolet, at Lyman alpha. The ‘hot Neptune’ transiting the M dwarf GJ436 is the best analog we have to a transiting super-Earth. Internal structure and atmospheric models predict that it bears an extended hydrogen/helium atmosphere subject to evaporation. It is detectable with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, providing the background Lyman-alpha source – the star – is bright enough or, alternatively, the emission line profile spans over a large velocity range. To date, no spectra of GJ436 exist at this wavelength. Using 1 orbit of Director’s Discretionary Time, we aim at properly estimating the stellar Lyman-alpha flux and line profile. This DDT will serve as a basis for a Cycle-18 program aimed at detecting the atmosphere of hot-Neptune GJ436b and constraining both internal structure and atmospheric models. WFC3/ACS/IR 11584 Resolving the Smallest Galaxies with ACS An order of magnitude more dwarf galaxies are expected to inhabit the Local Group, based on currently accepted galaxy formation models, than have been observed. This discrepancy has been noted in environments ranging from the field to rich clusters, with evidence emerging that lower density regions contain fewer dwarfs per giant than higher density regions, in further contrast to model predictions. However, there is no complete census of the faintest dwarf galaxies in any environment. The discovery of the smallest and faintest dwarfs is hampered by the limitations in detecting such compact or low surface brightness galaxies, and this is compounded by the great difficulty in determining accurate distances to, or ascertaining group membership for, such faint objects. The M81 group provides a powerful means for establishing membership for faint galaxies in a low density region. With a distance modulus of 27.8, the tip of the red giant branch (TRGB) appears at I ~ 24, just within the reach of ground based surveys. We have completed a 65 square degree survey in the region around M81 with the CFHT/MegaCam. Half of our survey was completed before Cycle 16 and we were awarded time with WFPC2 to observe 15 new candidate dwarf galaxy group members in F606W and F814W bands in order to construct color-magnitude diagrams from which to measure accurate TRGB distances and determine star formation and metallicity histories. The data obtained show that 8 – 9 of these objects are galaxies at the same distance as M81. In completing our survey, we have discovered an additional 8 candidate galaxies we propose to image with ACS in order to measure TRGB distances and establish membership. We also wish to re-observe our smallest candidate group member and a tidal dwarf candidate with deeper observations made possible with ACS. Once membership has been established for this second set of candidates, we will have a complete census of the dwarf galaxy population in the M8 group to M_r ~ -10, allowing us to obtain a firm measurement of the luminosity function faint-end slope, and, combined with previous HST data, to provide a complete inventory of the age and abundance properties for the collapsed core of the M81 group. 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/UVIS 11603 A Comprehensive Study of Dust Formation in Type II Supernovae with HST, Spitzer, and Gemini The recent discovery of three extremely bright Type II SNe, (2007it, 2007oc, 2007od) gives us a unique opportunity to combine observations with HST, Spitzer, and Gemini to study the little understood dust formation process in Type II SNe. Priority 1 Spitzer Cycle 5 and band 1 Gemini 2008A time has already been approved for this project. Since late-time Type II SNe are faint and tend to be in crowded fields, we need the high sensitivity and high spatial resolution of ACS and NICMOS/NIC2 for these observations. This project is motivated by the recent detection of large amounts of dust in high redshift galaxies. The dust in these high-z galaxies must come from young, massive stars so Type II SNe could be potential sources. The mechanism and the efficiency of dust condensation in Type II SN ejecta are not well understood, largely due to the lack of observational data. We plan to produce a unique dataset, combining spectroscopy and imaging in the visible, near- and mid-IR covering the key phase, 400- 700 days after maximum when dust is known to form in the SN ejecta. Therefore, we are proposing for coordinated HST/NOAO observations (HST ACS, NICMOS/NIC2 & Gemini/GMOS and TReCS) which will be combined with our Spitzer Cycle 5 data to study these new bright SNe. The results of this program will place strong constraints on the formation of dust seen in young high redshift (z>5) galaxies.

WFC3/IR 11712

Calibration of Surface Brightness Fluctuations for WFC3/IR

We aim to characterize galaxy surface brightness fluctuations (SBF), and calibrate the SBF distance method, in the F110W and F160W filters of the Wide Field Camera 3 IR channel. Because of the very high throughput of F110W and the good match of F160W to the standard H band, we anticipate that both of these filters will be popular choices for galaxy observations with WFC3/IR. The SBF signal is typically an order of magnitude brighter in the near-IR than in the optical, and the characteristics (sensitivity, FOV, cosmetics) of the WFC3/IR channel will be enormously more efficient for SBF measurements than previously available near-IR cameras. As a result, our proposed SBF calibration will allow accurate distance derivation whenever an early-type or bulge- dominated galaxy is observed out to a distance of 150 Mpc or more (i.e., out to the Hubble flow) in the calibrated passbands. For individual galaxy observations, an accurate distance is useful for establishing absolute luminosities, black hole masses, linear sizes, etc. Eventually, once a large number of galaxies have been observed across the sky with WFC3/IR, this SBF calibration will enable accurate mapping of the total mass density distribution in the local universe using the data available in the HST archive. The proposed observations will have additional important scientific value; in particular, we highlight their usefulness for understanding the nature of multimodal globular cluster color distributions in giant elliptical galaxies.

WFC3/IR 11926

IR Zero Points

We will measure and monitor the zeropoints through the IR filters using observations of the white dwarf standard stars, GD153, GD71 and GD191B2B and the solar analog standard star, P330E. Data will be taken monthly during Cycle 17. Observations of the star cluster, NGC 104, are made twice to check color transformations. We expect an accuracy of 2% in the wide filter zeropoints relative to the HST photometric system, and 5% in the medium- and narrow-band filters.

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 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 11702

Search for Very High-z Galaxies with WFC3 Pure Parallel

WFC3 will provide an unprecedented probe to the early universe beyond the current redshift frontier. Here we propose a pure parallel program using this new instrument to search for Lyman-break galaxies at 6.5 z<8.8 and to probe the epoch of reionization, a hallmark event in the history of the early universe. We request 200 orbits, spreading over 30 ~ 50 high Galactic latitude visits (|b|>20deg) that last for 4 orbits and longer, resulting a total survey area of about 140~230 square arcminute. Based on our understanding of the new HST parallel observation scheduling process, we believe that the total number of long-duration pure parallel visits in Cycle 17 should be sufficient to accommodate our program. We waive all proprietary rights to our data, and will also make the enhanced data products public in a timely manner.

(1) We will use both the UVIS and the IR channels, and do not need to seek optical data from elsewhere.

(2) Our program will likely triple the size of the probable candidate samples at z~7 and z~8, and will complement other targeted programs aiming at the similar redshift range.

(3) Being a pure parallel program, our survey will only make very limited demand on the scarce HST resources. More importantly, as the pure parallel pointings will be at random sight-lines, our program will be least affected by the bias due to the large scale structure (“cosmic variance”).

(4) We aim at the most luminous LBG population, and will address the bright-end of the luminosity function at z~8 and z~7. We will constrain the value of L* in particular, which is critical for understanding the star formation process and the stellar mass assembly history in the first few hundred million years of the universe.

(5) The candidates from our survey, most of which will be the brightest ones that any surveys would be able to find, will have the best chance to be spectroscopically confirmed at the current 8–10m telescopes.

(6) We will also find a large number of extremely red, old galaxies at intermediate redshifts, and the fine spatial resolution offered by the WFC3 will enable us constrain their formation history based on the study of their morphology, and hence shed light on their connection to the very early galaxies in the universe.

WFC3/UVIS/IR 11909

UVIS Hot Pixel Anneal

The on-orbit radiation environment of WFC3 will continually generate new hot pixels. This proposal performs the procedure required for repairing those hot pixels in the UVIS CCDs. During an anneal, the two-stage thermo-electric cooler (TEC) is turned off and the four-stage TEC is used as a heater to bring the UVIS CCDs up to ~20 deg. C. As a result of the CCD warmup, a majority of the hot pixels will be fixed; previous instruments such as WFPC2 and ACS have seen repair rates of about 80%. Internal UVIS exposures are taken before and after each anneal, to allow an assessment of the procedure’s effectiveness in WFC3, provide a check of bias, global dark current, and hot pixel levels, as well as support hysteresis (bowtie) monitoring and CDBS reference file generation. One IR dark is taken after each anneal, to provide a check of the IR detector.


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 06 06
FGS REAcq 09 09
OBAD with Maneuver 04 04


SpaceRef staff editor.