Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5091

By SpaceRef Editor
May 10, 2010
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PERIOD COVERED: 5am May 6 – 5am May 7, 2010 (DOY 126/09:00z-127/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)


18854-3 ? Recover STIS MAMA1 from HV shutoff @ 126/1914z


FGS GSAcq 6 6
FGS REAcq 9 9
OBAD with Maneuver 4 4


Ops Flash Report:

STIS MAMA1 HV ramp was successfully competed at 126/22:52z; the max counts observed during the ramp was 158 cnts/secs.



HST COS Observations of the Atmosphere and Airglow/Aurora of Enceladus

Recent observations from several instruments on the Cassini spacecraft have revealed plumes of dust and water from the southern polar region, and clearly shown that Enceladus contributes large amounts of plasma to Saturn?s magnetosphere. This implies a global thin atmosphere containing water and likely other species, and a local region with orders of magnitude higher density near the plumes. While water and dust have been identified from the plumes, the presence of many other species in the atmosphere is possible and not yet ruled out. The identification of all significant species in the atmosphere of Enceladus is of key importance to speculation about the source of the water plumes, and the implications for any form of life at or below the surface. In addition, modeling suggests that Enceladus? mass loading region may be comparable in extent to Io?s, and interacts strongly with Saturn?s corotating magnetic field and plasma. We have recently concluded a search for an auroral footprint of Enceladus in HST images, which set a low upper limit implying that the magnetospheric interaction is concentrated near Enceladus, rather than being communicated along field lines to Saturn?s ionosphere. The next step will be to observe the interaction at the satellite, and to learn whatever we can about the physics of the release of the atmospheric gas. We propose here an exploratory set of spectral observations with HST COS to measure the solar reflection spectrum over a broad range of UV wavelengths for atmospheric absorption signatures. This will at the same time measure the emission spectrum of the atmosphere from both the leading and trailing hemispheres ? Enceladus orbit apart, as was done in HST STIS observations of Io to study its interaction at Jupiter. The higher sensitivity of COS will be needed to study the much smaller and relatively weakly-interacting Enceladus, and the outcome of these observations will determine the nature of future studies of the atmosphere of Enceladus and its plasma interaction with the Saturnian magnetosphere.


The Structure and Dynamics of Virgo’s Multi-Phase Intracluster Medium

The dynamical flows of the intracluster medium (ICM) are largely unknown. We propose to map the spatial and kinematic distribution of the warm ICM of the nearby Virgo cluster using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. 15 sightlines at a range of impact parameters within the virial radius of the cluster (0.2 – 1.7 Mpc) will be probed for Lyman-alpha absorption and the data compared to blind HI, dust and x-ray surveys to create a multi-phase map of the cluster’s ICM. Absorption line sightlines are commonly 40-100 kpc from a galaxy, allowing the flow of baryons between galaxies and the ICM to be assessed. The velocity distribution of the absorbers will be directly compared to simulations and used to constrain the turbulent motions of the ICM. This proposal will result in the first map of a cluster’s warm ICM and provide important tests for our theoretical understanding of cluster formation and the treatment of gas cooling in cosmological simulations.


Detailed Analysis of Carbon Atmosphere White Dwarfs

We propose to obtain UV spectra for the newly discovered white dwarf stars with a carbon- dominated atmosphere. Model calculations show that these stars emit most of their light in the UV part of the electromagnetic spectrum and that an accurate determination of the flux in this region is crucial for an accurate determination of the atmospheric parameters. It will also provide a unique opportunity to test the atomic data and broadening theory in stellar conditions never met before. This will play a primordial role in our path to understand the origin of these objects as well to obtain a better understanding of the evolution of stars in general. The principal objective we hope to achieve with these observations are 1) obtain accurate surface gravity/mass for these stars, 2) constrain/determine the abundance of other elements (O, He, Mg, Ne etc.), especially oxygen, 3) verify the accuracy of the various theoretical atomic data used in the model calculations, 4) understand the origin and evolution of carbon atmosphere white dwarfs, in particular whether progenitor stars as massive as 10.5 solar masses can produce white dwarfs, rather than supernovae. We propose to observe 5 objects chosen carefully to cover the range of observed properties among carbon atmosphere white dwarfs (effective temperature, surface gravity, abundance of hydrogen/helium and magnetic field).

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/CCD 11606

Dynamical Hypermassive Black Hole Masses

We will use STIS spectra to derive the masses of 5 hypermassive black holes (HMBHs). From the observed scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids, these objects are expected to reside at the nuclei of host galaxies with stellar velocity dispersions greater than 320 km/s. These 5 targets have confirmed regular gas distributions on the scales of the black hole sphere of influence. It is essential that the sphere of influence is resolved for accurate determinations of black hole mass (0.1″). These scales cannot be effectively observed from the ground. Only two HMBHs have had their masses modeled so far; it is impossible to draw any general conclusions about the connections between HMBH mass and their massive host galaxies. With these 5 targets we will determine whether these HMBHs deviate from the scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids. A larger sample will allow us to firmly anchor the high mass end of the correlation between black hole mass and stellar velocity dispersion, and other scaling relations. Therefore we are also conducting a SNAPshot program with which we expect to detect a further 24 HMBH candidates for STIS observation in future cycles. At the completion of this project we will have populated the high mass end of the scaling relations with the sample sizes enjoyed by less massive spheroids.

STIS/MA 11856

MAMA Full Field Sensitivity Monitor & PSF Check

The purpose of this program is to monitor the sensitivity of the MAMA detectors over the full field. This is achieved by observing globular cluster NGC6681 once during Cycle 17. The data can be directly compared with similar data obtained in Cycles 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

STIS/MA1 11861


This program will obtain FUV-MAMA observations of the STIS internal Krypton lamp to construct an FUV flat applicable to all FUV modes.

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/UV 11602

High-resolution imaging of three new UV-bright lensed arcs

We have identified and spectroscopically confirmed three new strongly lensed, UV-bright star-forming galaxies at z ~ 2 that are similar to the well-studied gravitationally lensed Lyman Break Galaxy (LBG) MS1512-cB58, and are of comparable brightness to the ”8 O’Clock Arc” (Allam et al. 2007) and ”Clone” systems (Lin et al. 2008). The 8 O’Clock Arc and Clone have already been awarded 20 orbits for deep WFPC2 and NICMOS imaging in five bands (HST cycle 16, Program 11167, PI: Allam). Adding these three recently discovered objects thus completes a unique set of the brightest known strongly lensed galaxies at z ~ 2, with magnitudes of r~20-21, and they provide a new window into the detailed study of the properties of high redshift galaxies. We propose 21 orbits for deep WFC3 imaging in five bands (F475W, F606W, F814W, F110W, and F160W) in order to construct detailed lensing models, to probe the mass and light profiles of the lensing galaxies and their environments, and to constrain the spectral energy distributions, star formation histories, and morphologies of the lensed galaxies.

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 11662

Improving the Radius-Luminosity Relationship for Broad-Lined AGNs with a New Reverberation Sample

The radius-luminosity (R-L) relationship is currently the fundamental basis for all techniques used to estimate black hole masses in AGNs, in both the nearby and distant universe. However, the current R-L relationship is based on 34 objects that cover a limited range in black hole mass and luminosity. To improve our understanding of black hole growth and evolution, the R-L relationship must be extended to cover a broader range of black hole masses using the technique known as reverberation mapping. To this end, we have been awarded an unprecedented 64 nights on the Lick Observatory 3-m telescope between March 24 and May 31, 2008, to spectroscopically monitor 12 AGNs in order to measure their black hole masses. To properly determine the luminosities of these 12 AGNs, we must correct them for their host-galaxy starlight contributions using high-resolution images. Previous work by Bentz et al. (2006) has shown that the starlight correction to AGN luminosity measurements is an essential component to interpreting the R-L relationship. The correction will be substantial for each of the 12 sources we will monitor, as the AGNs are relatively faint and embedded in nearby, bright galaxies. Starlight corrections are not possible with ground-based images, as the PSF and bulge contributions become indistinguishable under typical seeing conditions, and adaptive optics are not yet operational in the spectral range where the corrections are needed. In addition, spectral decompositions are very model-dependent and are limited by the degree of accuracy to which we understand emission processes and stellar populations in galaxies. Without correcting for starlight, we will be unable to apply the results of our Spring 2008 campaign to the body of knowledge from previous reverberation mapping work. Therefore, we propose to obtain high resolution, high dynamic range images of the host galaxies of the 12 AGNs in our ground-based monitoring sample, as well as one white dwarf which will be used as a PSF model.

WFC3/UVIS/IR 11700

Bright Galaxies at z>7.5 with a WFC3 Pure Parallel Survey

The epoch of reionization represents a special moment in the history of the Universe as it is during this era that the first galaxies and star clusters are formed. Reionization also profoundly affects the environment where subsequent generations of galaxies evolve. Our overarching goal is to test the hypothesis that galaxies are responsible for reionizing neutral hydrogen. To do so we propose to carry out a pure parallel WFC3 survey to constrain the bright end of the redshift z>7.5 galaxy luminosity function on a total area of 176 arcmin^2 of sky. Extrapolating the evolution of the luminosity function from z~6, we expect to detect about 20 Lyman Break Galaxies brighter than M_* at z~8 significantly improving the current sample of only a few galaxies known at these redshifts. Finding significantly fewer objects than predicted on the basis of extrapolation from z=6 would set strong limits to the brightness of M_*, highlighting a fast evolution of the luminosity function with the possible implication that galaxies alone cannot reionize the Universe. Our observations will find the best candidates for spectroscopic confirmation, that is bright z>7.5 objects, which would be missed by small area deeper surveys. The random pointing nature of the program is ideal to beat cosmic variance, especially severe for luminous massive galaxies, which are strongly clustered. In fact our survey geometry of 38 independent fields will constrain the luminosity function like a contiguous single field survey with two times more area at the same depth. Lyman Break Galaxies at z>7.5 down to m_AB=26.85 (5 sigma) in F125W will be selected as F098M dropouts, using three to five orbits visits that include a total of four filters (F606W, F098M, F125W, F160W) optimized to remove low-redshift interlopers and cool stars. Our data will be highly complementary to a deep field search for high- z galaxies aimed at probing the faint end of the luminosity function, allowing us to disentangle the degeneracy between faint end slope and M_* in a Schechter function fit of the luminosity function. We waive proprietary rights for the data. In addition, we commit to release the coordinates and properties of our z>7.5 candidates within one month from the acquisition of each field.

SpaceRef staff editor.