Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5108

By SpaceRef Editor
June 5, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am June 1 – 5am June 2, 2010 (DOY 152/09:00z-153/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 8 8
FGS REAcq 5 5
OBAD with Maneuver 6 6



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 11686

The Cosmological Impact of AGN Outflows: Measuring Absolute Abundances and Kinetic Luminosities

AGN outflows are increasingly invoked as a major contributor to the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes, their host galaxies, the surrounding IGM, and cluster cooling flows. Our HST/COS proposal will determine reliable absolute chemical abundances in six AGN outflows, which influences several of the processes mentioned above. To date there is only one such determination, done by our team on Mrk 279 using 16 HST/STIS orbits and 100 ksec of FUSE time. The advent of COS and its high sensitivity allows us to choose among fainter objects at redshifts high enough to preclude the need for FUSE. This will allow us to determine the absolute abundances for six AGN (all fainter than Mrk 279) using only 40 HST COS orbits. This will put abundances studies in AGN on a firm footing, an elusive goal for the past four decades. In addition, prior FUSE observations of four of these targets indicate that it is probable that the COS observations will detect troughs from excited levels of C III. These will allow us to measure the distances of the outflows and thereby determine their kinetic luminosity, a major goal in AGN feedback research. We will use our state of the art column density extraction methods and velocity-dependent photoionization models to determine the abundances and kinetic luminosity. Previous AGN outflow projects suffered from the constraints of deciding what science we could do using ONE of the handful of bright targets that were observable. With COS we can choose the best sample for our experiment. As an added bonus, most of the spectral range of our targets has not been observed previously, greatly increasing the discovery phase space.

COS/FUV 11692

The LMC as a QSO Absorption Line System

We propose to obtain high resolution, high signal-to-noise observations of QSOs behind the Large Magellanic Clouds. These QSOs are situated beyond the star forming disk of the galaxy, giving us the opportunity to study the distribution of metals and energy in regions lacking significant star formation. In particular, we will derive the metallicities and study the ionization characteristics of LMC gas at impact parameters 3-17 kpc. We will compare our results with high-z QSO absorption line systems.

FGS 11704

The Ages of Globular Clusters and the Population II Distance Scale

Globular clusters are the oldest objects in the universe whose age can be accurately determined. The dominant error in globular cluster age determinations is the uncertain Population II distance scale. We propose to use FGS 1r to obtain parallaxes with an accuracy of 0.2 milliarcsecond for 9 main sequence stars with [Fe/H] < -1.5. This will determine the absolute magnitude of these stars with accuracies of 0.04 to 0.06mag. This data will be used to determine the distance to 24 metal-poor globular clusters using main sequence fitting. These distances (with errors of 0.05 mag) will be used to determine the ages of globular clusters using the luminosity of the subgiant branch as an age indicator. This will yield absolute ages with an accuracy 5%, about a factor of two improvement over current estimates. Coupled with existing parallaxes for more metal-rich stars, we will be able to accurately determine the age for globular clusters over a wide range of metallicities in order to study the early formation history of the Milky Way and provide an independent estimate of the age of the universe. The Hipparcos database contains only 1 star with [Fe/H] < -1.4 and an absolute magnitude error less than 0.18 mag which is suitable for use in main sequence fitting. Previous attempts at main sequence fitting to metal-poor globular clusters have had to rely on theoretical calibrations of the color of the main sequence. Our HST parallax program will remove this source of possible systematic error and yield distances to metal-poor globular clusters which are significantly more accurate than possible with the current parallax data. The HST parallax data will have errors which are 10 times smaller than the current parallax data. Using the HST parallaxes, we will obtain main sequence fitting distances to 11 globular clusters which contain over 500 RR Lyrae stars. This will allow us to calibrate the absolute magnitude of RR Lyrae stars, a commonly used Population II distance indicator. FGS 11788 The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems Are all planetary systems coplanar? Concordance cosmogony makes that prediction. It is, however, a prediction of extrasolar planetary system architecture as yet untested by direct observation for main sequence stars other than the Sun. To provide such a test, we propose to carry out FGS astrometric studies on four stars hosting seven companions. Our understanding of the planet formation process will grow as we match not only system architecture, but formed planet mass and true distance from the primary with host star characteristics for a wide variety of host stars and exoplanet masses. We propose that a series of FGS astrometric observations with demonstrated 1 millisecond of arc per-observation precision can establish the degree of coplanarity and component true masses for four extrasolar systems: HD 202206 (brown dwarf+planet); HD 128311 (planet+planet), HD 160691 = mu Arae (planet+planet), and HD 222404AB = gamma Cephei (planet+star). In each case the companion is identified as such by assuming that the minimum mass is the actual mass. For the last target, a known stellar binary system, the companion orbit is stable only if coplanar with the AB binary orbit. STIS/CCD 11845 CCD Dark Monitor Part 2 Monitor the darks for the STIS CCD. STIS/CCD 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/IR 11712 Calibration of Surface Brightness Fluctuations for WFC3/IR We aim to characterize galaxy surface brightness fluctuations (SBF), and calibrate the SBF distance method, in the F110W and F160W filters of the Wide Field Camera 3 IR channel. Because of the very high throughput of F110W and the good match of F160W to the standard H band, we anticipate that both of these filters will be popular choices for galaxy observations with WFC3/IR. The SBF signal is typically an order of magnitude brighter in the near-IR than in the optical, and the characterisitics (sensitivity, FOV, cosmetics) of the WFC3/IR channel will be enormously more efficient for SBF measurements than previously available near-IR cameras. As a result, our proposed SBF calibration will allow accurate distance derivation whenever an early-type or bulge-dominated galaxy is observed out to a distance of 150 Mpc or more (i.e., out to the Hubble flow) in the calibrated passbands. For individual galaxy observations, an accurate distance is useful for establishing absolute luminosities, black hole masses, linear sizes, etc. Eventually, once a large number of galaxies have been observed across the sky with WFC3/IR, this SBF calibration will enable accurate mapping of the total mass density distribution in the local universe using the data available in the HST archive. The proposed observations will have additional important scientific value; in particular, we highlight their usefulness for understanding the nature of multimodal globular cluster color distributions in giant elliptical galaxies. WFC3/IR 11915 IR Internal Flat Fields This program is the same as 11433 (SMOV) and depends on the completion of the IR initial alignment (program 11425). This version contains three instances of 37 internal orbits; to be scheduled early, middle, and near the end of Cycle 17, in order to use the entire 110-orbit allocation. In this test, we will study the stability and structure of the IR channel flat field images through all filter elements in the WFC3-IR channel. Flats will be monitored, i.e. to capture any temporal trends in the flat fields, and delta flats produced. High signal observations will provide a map of the pixel-to-pixel flat field structure, as well as identify the positions of any dust particles. WFC3/UVI 11556 Investigations of the Pluto System We propose a set of high SNR observations of the Pluto system that will provide improved lightcurves, orbits, and photometric properties of Nix and Hydra. The key photometric result for Nix and Hydra will be a vastly improved lightcurve shape and rotation period to test if the objects are in synchronous rotation or not. A second goal of this program will be to retrieve a new epoch of albedo map for the surface of Pluto. These observations will also improve masses and in some case densities for the bodies in the Pluto system. WFC3/UVI 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 (11909), will be used to generate the necessary superbias and superdark reference files for the calibration pipeline (CDBS). WFC3/UVI 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.