Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5028

By SpaceRef Editor
February 10, 2010
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PERIOD COVERED: 5am February 5 – 5am February 8, 2010 (DOY 036/10:00z-039/10:00z)



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

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.

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/IR 11913

IR Filter Wedge Check

The position of each IR filter will be checked to verify that the filters meet the CEI (Contract End Item) specification for image displacement. We will observe the cluster NGC 1859 with all full-frame IR filters using a subarray (IRSUB512) without moving the telescope. The relative displacement of the stars in each image will be measured from one filter to the next.

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.

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 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).

COS/NUV 11894

NUV Detector Dark Monitor

The purpose of this proposal is to measure the NUV detector dark rate by taking long science exposures with no light on the detector. The detector dark rate and spatial distribution of counts will be compared to pre-launch and SMOV data in order to verify the nominal operation of the detector. Variations of count rate as a function of orbital position will be analyzed to find dependence of dark rate on proximity to the SAA. Dependence of dark rate as function of time will also be tracked.


HST Cycle 17 and Post-SM4 Optical Monitor

This program is the Cycle 17 implementation of the HST Optical Monitoring Program.

The 36 orbits comprising this proposal will utilize ACS (Wide Field Channel) and WFC3 (UVIS Channel) to observe stellar cluster members in parallel with multiple exposures over an orbit. Phase retrieval performed on the PSF in each image will be used to measure primarily focus, with the ability to explore apparent coma, and astigmatism changes in WFC3.

The goals of this program are to: 1) monitor the overall OTA focal length for the purposes of maintaining focus within science tolerances 2) gain experience with the relative effectiveness of phase retrieval on WFC3/UVIS PSFs 3) determine focus offset between the imagers and identify any SI-specific focus behavior and dependencies

If need is determined, future visits will be modified to interleave WFC3/IR channel and STIS/CCD focii measurements.

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 11844

CCD Dark Monitor Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.


Direct Age Determination of the Local Group dE Galaxies NGC 147 and NGC 185

The origin of dwarf elliptical (dE) galaxies remains a mystery and the dE galaxies of the Local Group provide the best opportunity to study this galaxy class in detail. We propose to obtain ACS photometry of main sequence turnoff stars in the M31 dE satellites NGC 147 and NGC 185. Because these galaxies have little to no stars younger than 1 Gyr, resolving the main sequence turnoff is required to directly quantify their star formation histories. NGC 147 and NGC 185 are the only two dEs for which a clean measurement is feasible with the HST. This proposal was accepted in Cycle 15, but little data were taken before the failure of ACS. The main sequence turnoffs of NGC 147 and NGC 185 are expected to be at an apparent magnitude of V=29; we request F606W/F814W imaging one half magnitude fainter than this limit (three magnitudes fainter than the deepest previous dE observations). Quantifying the ratio of old to intermediate-age stars will allow us to discriminate between competing models of dE formation. On-going Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy of several hundred red giant stars in each of these two dE galaxies, coupled with dynamical modeling and spectral synthesis, will complement the ACS measurement by providing information on chemical abundance patterns, dark matter content and internal dynamics. The proposed ACS data will be the first to directly quantify the onset and duration of star formation episodes in dE galaxies, and will thereby form the cornerstone in what promises to be the most comprehensive study of this class of galaxies.

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/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.

STIS/CCD/MA1/MA2 11616

The Disks, Accretion, and Outflows (DAO) of T Tau Stars

Classical T Tauri stars undergo magnetospheric accretion, power outflows, and possess the physical and chemical conditions in their disks to give rise to planet formation. Existing high resolution FUV spectra verify that this spectral region offers unique diagnostics of these processes, which have the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the interaction of a star and its accretion disk. To date the limited results are intriguing, with dramatic differences in kinematic structure in lines ranging from C IV to H2 among the few stars that have been observed. We propose to use HST/COS to survey the disks, outflows, and accretion (the DAO) of 26 CTTS and 6 WTTS in the FUV at high spectral resolution. A survey of this size is essential to establish how properties of accretion shocks, winds and disk irradiation depend on disk accretion rate. Specifically, our goals are to (1) measure the radiation from and understand the physical properties of the gas very near the accretion shock as a function of accretion rate using emission line profiles of hot lines (C IV, Si IV, N V, and He II); (2) measure the opacity, velocity, and temperature at the base of the outflow to constrain outflow models using wind absorption features; and (3) characterize the radiation incident on disks and protoplanetary atmospheres using H2 line and continuum emission and reconstructed bright Ly-alpha line emission.


Narrowing in on the Hubble Constant and Dark Energy

A measurement of the Hubble constant to a precision of a few percent would be a powerful aid to the investigation of the nature of dark energy and a potent “end-to end” test of the present cosmological model. In Cycle 15 we constructed a new streamlined distance ladder utilizing high- quality type Ia supernova data and observations of Cepheids with HST in the near-IR to minimize the dominant sources of systematic uncertainty in past measurements of the Hubble constant and reduce its total uncertainty to a little under 5%. Here we propose to exploit this new route to reduce the remaining uncertainty by more than 30%, translating into an equal reduction in the uncertainty of the equation of state of dark energy. We propose three sets of observations to reach this goal: a mosaic of NGC 4258 with WFC3 in F160W to triple its sample of long period Cepheids, WFC3/F160W observations of the 6 ideal SN Ia hosts to triple their samples of Cepheids, and observations of NGC 5584 the host of a new SN Ia, SN 2007af, to discover and measure its Cepheids and begin expanding the small set of SN Ia luminosity calibrations. These observations would provide the bulk of a coordinated program aimed at making the measurement of the Hubble constant one of the leading constraints on dark energy.

WFC3/ACS/IR 11563

Galaxies at z~7-10 in the Reionization Epoch: Luminosity Functions to <0.2L* from Deep IR Imaging of the HUDF and HUDF05 Fields The first generations of galaxies were assembled around redshifts z~7-10+, just 500-800 Myr after recombination, in the heart of the reionization of the universe. We know very little about galaxies in this period. Despite great effort with HST and other telescopes, less than ~15 galaxies have been reliably detected so far at z>7, contrasting with the ~1000 galaxies detected to date at z~6, just 200-400 Myr later, near the end of the reionization epoch. WFC3 IR can dramatically change this situation, enabling derivation of the galaxy luminosity function and its shape at z~7-8 to well below L*, measurement of the UV luminosity density at z~7-8 and z~8-9, and estimates of the contribution of galaxies to reionization at these epochs, as well as characterization of their properties (sizes, structure, colors). A quantitative leap in our understanding of early galaxies, and the timescales of their buildup, requires a total sample of ~100 galaxies at z~7-8 to ~29 AB mag. We can achieve this with 192 WFC3 IR orbits on three disjoint fields (minimizing cosmic variance): the HUDF and the two nearby deep fields of the HUDF05. Our program uses three WFC3 IR filters, and leverages over 600 orbits of existing ACS data, to identify, with low contamination, a large sample of over 100 objects at z~7-8, a very useful sample of ~23 at z~8-9, and limits at z~10. By careful placement of the WFC3 IR and parallel ACS pointings, we also enhance the optical ACS imaging on the HUDF and a HUDF05 field. We stress (1) the need to go deep, which is paramount to define L*, the shape, and the slope alpha of the luminosity function (LF) at these high redshifts; and (2) the far superior performance of our strategy, compared with the use of strong lensing clusters, in detecting significant samples of faint z~7-8 galaxies to derive their luminosity function and UV ionizing flux. Our recent z~7.4 NICMOS results show that wide-area IR surveys, even of GOODS-like depth, simply do not reach faint enough at z~7-9 to meet the LF and UV flux objectives. In the spirit of the HDF and the HUDF, we will waive any proprietary period, and will also deliver the reduced data to STScI. The proposed data will provide a Legacy resource of great value for a wide range of archival science investigations of galaxies at redshifts z~2-9. The data are likely to remain the deepest IR/optical images until JWST is launched, and will provide sources for spectroscopic followup by JWST, ALMA and EVLA.

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-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.


COS-GTO: QSO Absorbers, Galaxies and Large-Scale Structures in the Local Universe

This is a program to probe the large scale structure of baryons in the universe, including addressing questions of baryon fraction, physical conditions and relationships between absorbers and large-scale structures of galaxies. Besides these specific goals, this proposed GTO program also probes a large enough total path length in Ly alpha and OVI to add significantly to what STIS/FUSE has already observed. Several Galactic High Velocity Cloud Complexes also are probed by these sightlines, particularly the M Complex. The total path length of this proposed program for Ly alpha large-scale structure surveys is delta_z~5.5.

We have selected a variety of targets to address these questions, under the following subcategories:

1. Target 8 bright BL Lac objects to search for low contrast Ly alpha absorbers from the warm- hot interstellar medium (WHIM).

2. Ly alpha cloud sizes: The targets are a bright AGN pair which yield tangential distance separations of 100–500 kpc at z=0.01–0.05, where galaxy surveys are excellent. This pair has two filaments and two voids in this distance range.

3. Probes of starburst outflows: The targets are bright AGN, <= 100 kpc in projection out of the minor axis of nearby starburst galaxies. 4. A large galaxy’s gaseous halo: Three probes of the kinematics and metallicity of a single L* galaxy halo. These observations includes G130M, G160M exposures at SNR~20 and G285M at 2850A and SNR~10 for MgII. The 2L* galaxy, ESO 157-G049 (cz=1678 km/s), being probed by these sightlines has an available H I 21cm map from ATCA, H alpha imaging from CTIO and long- slit spectra from MSSSO. 5. Dwarf galaxy winds: These targets probe the kinematics and metallicities of outflows from active and inactive (in terms of star formation) dwarfs. WFC3/ACS/IR 11142 Revealing the Physical Nature of Infrared Luminous Galaxies at 0.3< z<2.7 Using HST and Spitzer We aim to determine physical properties of IR luminous galaxies at 0.3< z<2.7 by requesting coordinated HST/NIC2 and MIPS 70um observations of a unique, 24um flux-limited sample with complete Spitzer mid-IR spectroscopy. The 150 sources investigated in this program have S(24um) > 0.8mJy and their mid-IR spectra have already provided the majority targets with spectroscopic redshifts (0.3< z<2.7). The proposed 150~orbits of NIC2 and 66~hours of MIPS 70um will provide the physical measurements of the light distribution at the rest-frame ~8000A and better estimates of the bolometric luminosity. Combining these parameters together with the rich suite of spectral diagnostics from the mid-IR spectra, we will (1) measure how common mergers are among LIRGs and ULIRGs at 0.3< z<2.7, and establish if major mergers are the drivers of z>1 ULIRGs, as in the local Universe, (2) study the co-evolution of star formation and blackhole accretion by investigating the relations between the fraction of starburst/AGN measured from mid-IR spectra vs. HST morphologies, L(bol) and z, and (3) obtain the current best estimates of the far-IR emission, thus L(bol) for this sample, and establish if the relative contribution of mid-to-far IR dust emission is correlated with morphology (resolved vs. unresolved).


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


#12182 GSAcq(1,2,1) @038/17:33:41z and REAcq(1,2,1) @038/20:45:04z failed to RGA Hold (Gyro Control) due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS-2

Observations affected: WFC3 #191-192 & #195-197 Proposal #12050

#12183 REAcq(1,2,1) at 038/19:09:13z failed to RGA Hold (gyro control) due to scan step limit exceeded on FGS-1.

Observations affected: WFC3 #193-194 Proposal #12050



FGS GSAcq 21 20
FGS REAcq 24 22
OBAD with Maneuver 17 10


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