Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5117

By SpaceRef Editor
June 16, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am June 14 – 5am June 15, 2010 (DOY 165/09:00z-166/09:00z)


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


12302 – GSAcq(1,2,1) scheduled at 166/05:02:06z and REAcqs(1,2,1) at 166/06:33:31z and at 166/08:09:26z all resulted in fine lock backup (1,0,1) using FGS 1.

Observations possibly affected: COS 16 -21 Proposal ID#11598; WFC3 44, 46, 49 Proposal ID#11700; WFC3 45, 47, 48, 50, 51 Proposal ID#11906; STIS 16 – 17 Proposal ID#11849.



FGS GSAcq 12 12
FGS REAcq 5 5
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7



ACS/SBC 12016

The Stars and Edge-on Disks of PDS 144: An Intermediate-Mass Analog of Wide T Tauri Multiple Stars

High-Inclination PMS stars are optimally oriented to measure disk size, height, to detect jets, and to directly probe disk composition. Placing these data into evolutionary context requires dates for the systems and measurements of L bol, and extinction. For such stars, X-ray data provide L x, but also N(H) and the total extinction. FUV data measures L UV, and constrains the shape of the extinction curve. Recent studies have suggested that the frequency of Jovian-mass planets is higher for systems with intermediate-mass stars, due to disk mass or composition. While suitable low mass YSOs are well-represented in the Chandra and HST archives, similar data are lacking for higher mass systems. We propose joint Chandra and HST imaging of PDS 144 to fill this gap.

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.


How Galaxies Acquire their Gas: A Map of Multiphase Accretion and Feedback in Gaseous Galaxy Halos

We propose to address two of the biggest open questions in galaxy formation – how galaxies acquire their gas and how they return it to the IGM – with a concentrated COS survey of diffuse multiphase gas in the halos of SDSS galaxies at z = 0.15 – 0.35. Our chief science goal is to establish a basic set of observational facts about the physical state, metallicity, and kinematics of halo gas, including the sky covering fraction of hot and cold material, the metallicity of infall and outflow, and correlations with galaxy stellar mass, type, and color – all as a function of impact parameter from 10 – 150 kpc. Theory suggests that the bimodality of galaxy colors, the shape of the luminosity function, and the mass-metallicity relation are all influenced at a fundamental level by accretion and feedback, yet these gas processes are poorly understood and cannot be predicted robustly from first principles. We lack even a basic observational assessment of the multiphase gaseous content of galaxy halos on 100 kpc scales, and we do not know how these processes vary with galaxy properties. This ignorance is presently one of the key impediments to understanding galaxy formation in general. We propose to use the high-resolution gratings G130M and G160M on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to obtain sensitive column density measurements of a comprehensive suite of multiphase ions in the spectra of 43 z < 1 QSOs lying behind 43 galaxies selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. In aggregate, these sightlines will constitute a statistically sound map of the physical state and metallicity of gaseous halos, and subsets of the data with cuts on galaxy mass, color, and SFR will seek out predicted variations of gas properties with galaxy properties. Our interpretation of these data will be aided by state-of-the-art hydrodynamic simulations of accretion and feedback, in turn providing information to refine and test such models. We will also use Keck, MMT, and Magellan (as needed) to obtain optical spectra of the QSOs to measure cold gas with Mg II, and optical spectra of the galaxies to measure SFRs and to look for outflows. In addition to our other science goals, these observations will help place the Milky Way's population of multiphase, accreting High Velocity Clouds (HVCs) into a global context by identifying analogous structures around other galaxies. Our program is designed to make optimal use of the unique capabilities of COS to address our science goals and also generate a rich dataset of other absorption-line systems along a significant total pathlength through the IGM (Delta z ~ 20). COS/NUV 11538 COS-GTO: Imaging of Mid-UV Emissions from Io in Eclipse The atmosphere and corona of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io emit light at a wide variety of wavelengths, from FUV neutral O and S lines to SO emission at 1.7 microns. These emissions provide important constraints on the distribution and chemistry of Io’s atmosphere, and Io’s interaction with the Jovian magnetosphere. The neutral O and S FUV emissions, shortward of 2000?, have been imaged extensively by HST/STIS and visible emissions (from neutral Na, K and O line emission, and SO2 continuum emission) have been imaged by the Galileo, Cassini, and New Horizons spacecraft, but the spatial distribution of emissions in the 2000-3000? region, thought to be dominated by SO2 electron impact continuum emission, has not yet been determined. Earlier long-slit observations with STIS indicated strong concentration of 2800? emission over the active volcano Prometheus (Jessup et al. 2004), suggesting local volcanic control, but Cassini images suggest that the SO2 continuum seen at longer wavelengths is instead concentrated over the sub-Jovian and anti-Jovian points where there are magnetic connections between Io and the Jovian magnetosphere- the anti-Jovian point is close to Prometheus. A series of 200-second integrations taken in Jupiter eclipse should determine whether emission is concentrated over volcanos or over the sub-Jovian point, and should be able to observe motion of the emission due to changing magnetic field orientation if it is magnetically controlled. This observation will also provide experience in the use of COS in imaging mode. COS/NUV 11894 NUV Detector Dark Monitor 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/WFC3/IR 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). STIS/CCD 11721 Verifying the Utility of Type Ia Supernovae as Cosmological Probes: Evolution and Dispersion in the Ultraviolet Spectra The study of distant type Ia supernova (SNe Ia) offers the most practical and immediate discriminator between popular models of dark energy. Yet fundamental questions remain over possible redshift-dependent trends in their observed and intrinsic properties. High quality Keck spectroscopy of a representative sample of 36 intermediate redshift SNe Ia has revealed a surprising, and unexplained, diversity in their rest-frame UV fluxes. One possible explanation is hitherto undiscovered variations in the progenitor metallicity. Unfortunately, this result cannot be compared to local UV data as only two representative SNe Ia have been studied near maximum light. Taking advantage of two new `rolling searches’ and the restoration of STIS, we propose a non-disruptive TOO campaign to create an equivalent comparison local sample. This will allow us to address possible evolution in the mean UV spectrum and its diversity, an essential precursor to the study of SNe beyond z~1. STIS/CCD 11818 NICMOS confirmation of an extrasolar planet candidate directly detected with ACS With ACS/HRC coronagraphy, we have achieved the direct detection of a planet candidate in F606W and F814W around a bright nearby star with a debris belt. The planet candidate, Fomalhaut b, lies 18 astronomical units interior to the dust belt and we detect counterclockwise orbital motion in observations separated by 1.75 years. The candidate has mass no greater than three Jupiter masses based on an analysis of its luminosity and the dynamical argument that a significantly more massive object would disrupt the dust belt. Using recent model predictions for 100-300 Myr old planetary atmospheres, the planet candidate has a temperature of ~400 K and a mass 1.6 – 3.4 M_J. Variability at optical wavelengths suggests additional sources of luminosity such as H-alpha emission or the episodic accretion of cometary material. Here we propose follow-up observations with HST/STIS c oronagraphy. We employ an observing strategy that is identical to the one used for the detection using ACS/HRC coronagraphy. The key goal is recovery of Fomalhaut b in a third epoch that will also provide crucial astrometric information to determine its orbit. From the new orbit estimate and models of dynamical interactions with the surrounding debris belt, we aim to further constrain the mass of Fomalhaut b and the evolutionary history of the system. 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. 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 C to the ambient instrument temperature (~ +5 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. STIS/CCD/STIS/MA2 11568 A SNAPSHOT Survey of the Local Interstellar Medium: New NUV Observations of Stars with Archived FUV Observations We propose to obtain high-resolution STIS E230H SNAP observations of MgII and FeII interstellar absorption lines toward stars within 100 parsecs that already have moderate or high-resolution far-UV (FUV), 900-1700 A, observations available in the MAST Archive. Fundamental properties, such as temperature, turbulence, ionization, abundances, and depletions of gas in the local interstellar medium (LISM) can be measured by coupling such observations. Due to the wide spectral range of STIS, observations to study nearby stars also contain important data about the LISM embedded within their spectra. However, unlocking this information from the intrinsically broad and often saturated FUV absorption lines of low-mass ions, (DI, CII, NI, OI), requires first understanding the kinematic structure of the gas along the line of sight. This can be achieved with high resolution spectra of high-mass ions, (FeII, MgII), which have narrow absorption lines, and can resolve each individual velocity component (interstellar cloud). By obtaining short (~10 minute) E230H observations of FeII and MgII, for stars that already have moderate or high-resolution FUV spectra, we can increase the sample of LISM measurements, and thereby expand our knowledge of the physical properties of the gas in our galactic neighborhood. STIS is the only instrument capable of obtaining the required high resolution data now or in the foreseeable future. WFC3/IR 11694 Mapping the Interaction between High-Redshift Galaxies and the Intergalactic Environment With the commissioning of the high-throughput large-area camera WFC3/IR, it is possible for the first time to undertake an efficient survey of the rest-frame optical morphologies of galaxies at the peak epoch of star formation in the universe. We therefore propose deep WFC3/IR imaging of over 320 spectroscopically confirmed galaxies between redshift 1.6 < z < 3.4 in well-studied fields which lie along the line of sight to bright background QSOs. The spectra of these bright QSOs probe the IGM in the vicinity of each of the foreground galaxies along the line of sight, providing detailed information on the physical state of the gas at large galactocentric radii. In combination with our densely sampled UV/IR spectroscopy, stellar population models, and kinematic data in these fields, WFC3/IR imaging data will permit us to construct a comprehensive picture of the structure, dynamics, and star formation properties of a large population of galaxies in the early universe and their effect upon their cosmological environment. 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/IR 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/UVI 11577

Opening New Windows on the Antennae with WFC3

We propose to use WFC3 to provide key observations of young star clusters in “The Antennae” (NGC4038/39). Of prime importance is the WFC3’s ability to push the limiting UV magnitude FIVE mag deeper than our previous WFPC2 observations. This corresponds to pushing the limiting cluster mass from ~10**5 to ~10**3 solar masses for cluster ages ~10**8 yrs. In addition, the much wider field of view of the WFC3 IR channel will allow us to map out both colliding disks rather than just the Overlap Region between them. This will be especially important for finding the youngest clusters that are still embedded in their placental cocoons. The extensive set of narrow-band filters will provide an effective means for determining the properties of shocks, which are believed to be a primary triggering mechanism for star formation. We will also use ACS in parallel with WFC3 to observe portions of both the northern and southern tails at no additional orbital cost. Finally, one additional primary WFC3 orbit will be used to supplement exisiting HST observations of the star-forming “dwarf” galaxy at the end of the southern tail. Hence, when completed we will have full UBVI + H_alpha coverage (or more for the main galaxy) of four different environments in the Antennae. In conjunction with the extensive multi-wavelength database we have collected (both HST and ground-based) these observations will provide answers to fundamental questions such as: How do these clusters form and evolve? How is star formation triggered? How do star clusters affect the local and global ISM, and the evolution of the galaxy as a whole? The Antennae galaxies are the nearest example of a major disk–disk merger, and hence may represent our best chance for understanding how mergers form tremendous numbers of clusters and stars, both in the local universe and during galaxy assembly at high redshift.

WFC3/UVI 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.

WFC3/UVI 11707

Detecting Isolated Black Holes through Astrometric Microlensing

This proposal aims to make the first detection of isolated stellar-mass black holes (BHs) in the Milky Way, and to determine their masses. Until now, the only directly measured BH masses have come from radial-velocity measurements of X-ray binaries. Our proposed method uses the astrometric shifts that occur when a Galactic-bulge microlensing event is caused by a BH lens. Out of the hundreds of bulge microlensing events found annually by the OGLE and MOA surveys, a few are found to have very long durations (>200 days). It is generally believed that the majority of these long-duration events are caused by lenses that are isolated BHs.

To test this hypothesis, we will carry out high-precision astrometry of 5 long-duration events, using the ACS/HRC camera. The expected astrometric signal from a BH lens is >1.4 mas, at least 7 times the demonstrated astrometric precision attainable with the HRC.

This proposal will thus potentially lead to the first unambiguous detection of isolated stellar-mass BHs, and the first direct mass measurement for isolated stellar-mass BHs through any technique. Detection of several BHs will provide information on the frequency of BHs in the Galaxy, with implications for the slope of the IMF at high masses, the minimum mass of progenitors that produce BHs, and constraints on theoretical models of BH formation.

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 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 11906


The absolute gain of each quadrant of the WFC3 UVIS detector will be measured for the nominal detector readout configuration and at the on-orbit operating temperature.

WFC3/UVI 11912

UVIS Internal Flats

This proposal will be used to assess the stability of the flat field structure for the UVIS detector throughout the 15 months of Cycle 17. The data will be used to generate on-orbit updates for the delta-flat field reference files used in the WFC3 calibration pipeline, if significant changes in the flat structure are seen.

SpaceRef staff editor.