Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5120

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am June 17 – 5am June 18, 2010 (DOY 168/09:00z-169/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 6 6
FGS REAcq 9 9
OBAD with Maneuver 5 5



ACS/WFC3 11593

Dynamical Masses of the Coolest Brown Dwarfs

T dwarfs are excellent laboratories to study the evolution and the atmospheric physics of both brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets. To date, only a single T dwarf binary has a dynamical mass determination, and more are sorely needed. The prospects of measuring more dynamical masses over the next decade are limited to 6 known short-period T dwarf binaries. We propose here to obtain Long-Term HST/ACS monitoring for the 3 of the 6 binaries which cannot be resolved with AO from the ground. Upon completion, our program will substantially increase the number of T dwarf dynamical mass measurements and thereby provide key benchmarks for testing theoretical models of ultracool objects.

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.


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 COS/NUV/FUV 11698 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. 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 of 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. 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. 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

SpaceRef staff editor.