Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5024

By SpaceRef Editor
February 2, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am February 1 – 5am February 2, 2010 (DOY 032/10:00z-033/10:00z)


ACS/WFC 11995

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 2)

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 320 orbits (20 weeks) from 1 February 2010 to 20 June 2010.

ACS/WFC3 11604

The Nuclear Structure of OH Megamaser Galaxies

We propose a snapshot survey of a complete sample of 80 OH megamaser galaxies. Each galaxy will be imaged with the ACS/WFC through F814W and a linear ramp filter (FR656N or FR716N or FR782N or FR853N) allowing us to study both the spheroid and the gas morphology in Halpha + [N II]. We will use the 9% ramps FR647M (5370-7570 angstroms) centered at 7000 angstroms and FR914M (7570-10, 719 angstroms) 8000 angstroms for continuum subtraction for the high and low z objects respectively. OH megamaser galaxies (OHMG) form an important class of ultraluminous IR-galaxies (ULIRGs) whose maser lines emit QSO-like luminosities. ULIRGs in general are associated with recent mergers but it is often unclear whether their power output is dominated by starbursts or a hidden QSO because of the high absorbing columns which hide their nuclei even at X-ray wavelengths. In contrast, OHMG exhibit strong evidence for the presence of an energetically important and recently triggered active nucleus. In particular it is clear that much of the gas must have already collapsed to form a nuclear disk which may be the progenitor of a circum-nuclear torus, a key element of the unified scheme of AGN. A great advantage of studying OHMG systems over the general ULIRG population, is that the circum-nuclear disks are effectively “fixed” at an inner, edge on, orientation, eliminating varying inclination as a nuisance parameter. We will use the HST observations in conjunction with existing maser and spectroscopic data to construct a detailed picture of the circum-nuclear regions of a hitherto relatively neglected class of galaxy that may hold the key to understanding the relationship between galaxy mergers, nuclear star-formation, and the growth of massive black holes and the triggering of nuclear activity.

COS/FUV 11897

FUV Spectroscopic Sensitivity Monitoring

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor sensitivity in each FUV grating mode to detect any changes due to contamination or other causes.

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.

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/MA2 11568

A SNAPSHOT Survey of the Local Interstellar Medium: New NUV Observations of Stars with Archived FUV Observations

We propose to obtain high-resolution STIS E230H SNAP observations of MgII and FeII interstellar absorption lines toward stars within 100 parsecs that already have moderate or high-resolution far-UV (FUV), 900-1700 A, observations available in the MAST Archive. Fundamental properties, such as temperature, turbulence, ionization, abundances, and depletions of gas in the local interstellar medium (LISM) can be measured by coupling such observations. Due to the wide spectral range of STIS, observations to study nearby stars also contain important data about the LISM embedded within their spectra. However, unlocking this information from the intrinsically broad and often saturated FUV absorption lines of low-mass ions, (DI, CII, NI, OI), requires first understanding the kinematic structure of the gas along the line of sight. This can be achieved with high resolution spectra of high-mass ions, (FeII, MgII), which have narrow absorption lines, and can resolve each individual velocity component (interstellar cloud). By obtaining short (~10 minute) E230H observations of FeII and MgII, for stars that already have moderate or high- resolution FUV spectra, we can increase the sample of LISM measurements, and thereby expand our knowledge of the physical properties of the gas in our galactic neighborhood. STIS is the only instrument capable of obtaining the required high resolution data now or in the foreseeable future.

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).


20th Anniversary of HST Launch

The 20th anniversary of HST’s launch on April 24, 2010 will be a significant milestone both in the Hubble mission and in the history of U.S. space astronomy. Already plans are in place for many activities surrounding this anniversary that take advantage of the “teachable moment” afforded by this event. A new, high-impact image from Hubble is a necessary component of this mix. We are proposing here to meet that need with new observations of a dramatic region of the Carina Nebula only partially observed previously with Hubble. The release of the large mosaic of the Carina Nebula for HST’s 17th anniversary was one of the largest Hubble images ever released (Fig. 1). It contains numerous dramatic details including the pillar containing HH 901 (Fig. 2) which was itself released as a separate detail image. What is not widely realized, however, is that the HST data in the Carina mosaic is limited to H-alpha only. The oxygen (502 nm) and sulfur (673 nm) images were obtained with the MOSAIC camera at CTIO. These low resolution images were combined with the much higher resolution HST data to produce the final color image composite. When the full mosaic is viewed, the loss of resolution is an acceptable compromise. However, when zooming in on details, the effect is noticeable. We have selected the most dramatic portion to return to with WFC3 to obtain HST resolution in a complete filter set. In order to highlight the new capabilities of WFC3 as well as foreshadowing the capabilities of JWST, we will obtain a full 3-color composite in the IR channel of WFC3 in addition

WFC3/UVIS 11714

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.

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 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 10 10
FGS REAcq 07 07
OBAD with Maneuver 05 05


SpaceRef staff editor.