Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5078

By SpaceRef Editor
April 20, 2010
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am April 19 – 5am April 20, 2010 (DOY 109/09:00z-110/09:00z)


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.

COS/FUV 11895

FUV Detector Dark Monitor

Monitor the FUV detector dark rate by taking long science exposures without illuminating 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.

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.


Testing the Origin(s) of the Highly Ionized High-Velocity Clouds: A Survey of Galactic Halo Stars at z>3 kpc

Cosmological simulation predicts that highly ionized gas plays an important role in the formation and evolution of galaxies and their interplay with the intergalactic medium. The NASA HST and FUSE missions have revealed high-velocity CIV and OVI absorption along extragalactic sightlines through the Galactic halo. These highly ionized high-velocity clouds (HVCs) could cover 85% of the sky and have a detection rate higher than the HI HVCs. Two competing, equally exciting, theories may explain the origin of these highly ionized HVCs: 1) the “Galactic” theory, where the HVCs are the result of feedback processes and trace the disk-halo mass exchange, perhaps including the accretion of matter condensing from an extended corona; 2) the “Local Group” theory, where they are part of the local warm-hot intergalactic medium, representing some of the missing baryonic matter of the Universe. Only direct distance determinations can discriminate between these models. Our group has found that some of these highly ionized HVCs have a Galactic origin, based on STIS observations of one star at z<5.3 kpc. We propose an HST FUV spectral survey to search for and characterize the high velocity NV, CIV, and SiIV interstellar absorption toward 24 stars at much larger distances than any previous searches (4< d<21 kpc, 3<|z|<13 kpc). COS will provide atomic to highly ionized species (e.g.,OI, CII, CIV, SiIV) that can be observed at sufficient resolution (R~22, 000) to not only detect these highly ionized HVCs but also to model their properties and understand their physics and origins. This survey is only possible because of the high sensitivity of COS in the FUV spectral range. 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. 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/CC 11845 CCD Dark Monitor Part 2 Monitor the darks for the STIS CCD. STIS/CC 11847 CCD Bias Monitor-Part 2 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/CC 12078 Verification of Adjustment to Two STIS MSM Positions Two STIS CCD CENWAVE positions (G430M 5216 & G750M 6094) project onto the detector at a row that differs significantly from the nominal position near the center of the detector. This proposal will test the MSM updates to properly center these positions. STIS/CCD 11849 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. WFC3/ACS/IR 11600 Star Formation, Extinction, and Metallicity at 0.7< z<1.5: H-Alpha Fluxes and Sizes from a Grism Survey of GOODS-N The global star formation rate (SFR) is ~10x higher at z=1 than today. This could be due to drastically elevated SFR in some fraction of galaxies, such as mergers with central bursts, or a higher SFR across the board. Either means that the conditions in z=1 star forming galaxies could be quite different from local objects. The next step beyond measuring the global SFR is to determine the dependence of SFR, obscuration, metallicity, and size of the star-forming region on galaxy mass and redshift. However, SFR indicators at z=1 typically apply local calibrations for UV, [O II] and far-IR, and do not agree with each other on a galaxy-by-galaxy basis. Extinction, metallicity, and dust properties cause uncontrolled offsets in SFR calibrations. The great missing link is Balmer H-alpha, the most sensitive probe of SFR. We propose a slitless WFC3/G141 IR grism survey of GOODS-N, at 2 orbits/pointing. It will detect Ha+[N II] emission from 0.7< z<1.5, to L(Ha) = 1.7 x 10^41 erg/sec at z=1, measuring H-alpha fluxes and sizes for > 600 galaxies, and a small number of higher-redshift emitters. This will produce: an emission-line redshift survey unbiased by magnitude and color selection; star formation rates as a function of galaxy properties, e.g. stellar mass and morphology/mergers measured by ACS; comparisons of SFRs from H-alpha to UV and far-IR indicators; calibrations of line ratios of H-alpha to important nebular lines such as [O II] and H-beta, measuring variations in metallicity and extinction and their effect on SFR estimates; and the first measurement of scale lengths of the H-alpha emitting, star- forming region in a large sample of z~1 sources.


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/IR 11719

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.

WFC3/UV 12077

Monitoring the Aftermath of an Asteroid Impact Event

Our Director’s Discretionary program (GO-12053) to image the newly discovered object P/2010 A2 executed successfully on 2010 Jan 25 and 29 with spectacular results. Hubble has apparently borne witness to the first detection of a collision in the asteroid belt. Hubble imaging with the WFC3 has revealed an object unlike anything ever seen before and with details impossible to detect with any other facility. We request 6 more orbits of Hubble time (1 orbit every 20 days over the next few months, until the object enters Hubble’s solar exclusion zone in late-June 2010) to monitor the evolution of this remarkable object and further clarify the nature of this event. These observations may usher in a new era of searching for and characterizing collisional events within the asteroid belt.

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.

WFC3/UVIS 11650

Mutual Orbits, Colors, Masses, and Bulk Densities of 3 Cold Classical Trans-Neptunian Binaries

Many Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) have been found to be binary or multiple systems. As in other astrophysical settings, Trans-Neptunian Binaries (TNBs) offer uniquely valuable information. Their mutual orbits allow the direct determination of their system masses, perhaps the most fundamental physical quantity of any astronomical object. Their frequency of occurrence and dynamical characteristics provide clues to formation conditions and evolution scenarios affecting both the binaries and their single neighbors. Combining masses with sizes, bulk densities can be measured. Densities constrain bulk composition and internal structure, key clues to TNO origins and evolution over time. Several TNB bulk densities have been determined, hinting at interesting trends. But none of them belongs to the Cold Classical sub-population, the one group of TNOs with demonstrably distinct physical characteristics. Two top-priority Spitzer programs will soon observe and measure the sizes of 3 Cold Classical TNBs. This proposal seeks to determine the mutual orbits and thus masses of these systems, enabling computation of their densities.

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).


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

HSTARS: (None)


18845-0 – Null Genslew for Proposal 12077 – slot 14 @ 109/1252z


FGS GSAcq 11 11
FGS REAcq 7 7
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7


SpaceRef staff editor.