Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5080

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2010
Filed under , ,


PERIOD COVERED: 5am April 21 – 5am April 22, 2010 (DOY 111/09:00z-112/09:00z)


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.


Using Massive Star Clusters in Merger Remnants To Provide Reference Colors of Intermediate- Age Stellar Populations

Much current research in cosmology and galaxy formation relies on an accurate interpretation of colors of galaxies in terms of their evolutionary state, i.e., in terms of ages and metallicities. One particularly important topic is the ability to identify early-type galaxies at “intermediate” ages (~ 500 Myr – 5 Gyr), i.e., the period between the end of star formation and ~ half the age of the universe. Currently, integrated-light studies must rely on population synthesis models which rest upon spectral libraries of stars in the solar neighborhood. These models have a difficult time correctly incorporating short-lived evolutionary phases such as thermally pulsing AGB stars, which produce up to 80% of the flux in the near-IR in this age range. Furthermore, intermediate-age star clusters in the Local Group do not represent proper templates against which to calibrate population synthesis models in this age range, because their masses are too low to render the effect of stochastic fluctuations due to the number of bright RGB and AGB stars negligible. As a consequence, current population synthesis models have trouble reconciling the evolutionary state of high-redshift galaxies from optical versus near-IR colors. We propose a simple and effective solution to this issue, namely obtaining high-quality EMPIRICAL colors of massive globular clusters in galaxy merger remnants which span this important age range. These colors should serve as relevant references, both to identify intermediate-age objects in the local and distant universe and as calibrators for population synthesis modellers.


The Impact of Starbursts on the Gaseous Halos of Galaxies

Perhaps the most important (yet uncertain) aspects of galaxy evolution are the processes by which galaxies accrete gas and by which the resulting star formation and black hole growth affects this accreting gas. It is believed that both the form of the accretion and the nature of the feedback change as a function of the galaxy mass. At low mass the gas comes in cold and the feedback is provided by massive stars. At high mass, the gas comes in hot, and the feedback is from an AGN. The changeover occurs near the mass where the galaxy population transitions from star-forming galaxies to red and dead ones. The population of red and dead galaxies is building with cosmic time, and it is believed that feedback plays an important role in this process: shutting down star formation by heating and/or expelling the reservoir of cold halo gas. To investigate these ideas, we propose to use COS far-UV spectra of background QSOs to measure the properties of the halo gas in a sample of galaxies near the transition mass that have undergone starbursts within the past 100 Myr to 1 Gyr. The galactic wind associated with the starburst is predicted to have affected the properties of the gaseous halo. To test this, we will compare the properties of the halos of the post-starburst galaxies to those of a control sample of galaxies matched in mass and QSO impact parameter. Do the halos of the post-starburst galaxies show a higher incidence rate of Ly-Alpha and metal absorption-lines? Are the kinematics of the halo gas more disturbed in the post-starbursts? Has the wind affected the ionization state and/or the metallicity of the halo? These data will provide fresh new insights into the role of feedback from massive stars on the evolution of galaxies, and may also offer clues about the properties of the QSO metal absorption-line systems at high-redshift .

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.

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.

WFC3/IR 11696

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/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/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 12018

Ultra-Luminous X-Ray Sources in the Most Metal-Poor Galaxies

There is growing observational and theoretical evidence to suggest that Ultra-Luminous X-ray sources (ULX) form preferentially in low metallicity environments. Here we propose a survey of 27 nearby (< 30Mpc) star-forming Extremely Metal Poor Galaxies (Z<5% solar). There are almost no X-ray observations of such low abundance galaxies (3 in the Chandra archive). These are the most metal-deficient galaxies known, and a logical place to find ULX if they favor metal-poor systems. We plan to test recent population synthesis models which predict that ULX should be very numerous in metal-poor galaxies. We will also test the hypothesis that ULX form in massive young star clusters, and ask for HST time to obtain the necessary imaging data. FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY: Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.) HSTARS: (None) COMPLETED OPS REQUEST: (None) COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)

FGS GSAcq 10 10
FGS REAcq 6 6
OBAD with Maneuver 8 8


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