Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5134

By SpaceRef Editor
July 9, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am July 8 – 5am July 9, 2010 (DOY 189/09:00z-190/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 5 5
FGS REAcq 7 7
OBAD with Maneuver 4 4




Testing the Origin(s) of the Highly Ionized High-Velocity Clouds: A Survey of Galactic Halo Stars at z>3 kpc

Cosmological simulation predicts that highly ionized gas plays an important role in the formation and evolution of galaxies and their interplay with the intergalactic medium. The NASA HST and FUSE missions have revealed high-velocity CIV and OVI absorption along extragalactic sightlines through the Galactic halo. These highly ionized high-velocity clouds (HVCs) could cover 85% of the sky and have a detection rate higher than the HI HVCs. Two competing, equally exciting, theories may explain the origin of these highly ionized HVCs: 1) the “Galactic” theory, where the HVCs are the result of feedback processes and trace the disk-halo mass exchange, perhaps including the accretion of matter condensing from an extended corona; 2) the “Local Group” theory, where they are part of the local warm-hot intergalactic medium, representing some of the missing baryonic matter of the Universe. Only direct distance determinations can discriminate between these models. Our group has found that some of these highly ionized HVCs have a Galactic origin, based on STIS observations of one star at z<5.3 kpc. We propose an HST FUV spectral survey to search for and characterize the high velocity NV, CIV, and SiIV interstellar absorption toward 24 stars at much larger distances than any previous searches (4< d<21 kpc, 3<|z|<13 kpc). COS will provide atomic to highly ionized species (e.g.,OI, CII, CIV, SiIV) that can be observed at sufficient resolution (R~22, 000) to not only detect these highly ionized HVCs but also to model their properties and understand their physics and origins. This survey is only possible because of the high sensitivity of COS in the FUV spectral range. COS/NUV/FUV 11598 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. 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 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 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/ACS/WFC 11663 Formation and Evolution of Massive Galaxies in the Richest Environments at 1.5 < z < 2.0 We propose to image seven 1.5< z<2 clusters and groups from the IRAC Shallow Cluster Survey with WFC3 and ACS in order to study the formation and evolution of massive galaxies in the richest environments in the Universe in this important redshift range. We will measure the evolution of the sizes and morphologies of massive cluster galaxies, as a function of redshift, richness, radius and local density. In combination with allocated Keck spectroscopy, we will directly measure the dry merger fraction in these clusters, as well as the evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) over this redshift range where clear model predictions can be confronted. Finally we will measure both the epoch of formation of the stellar populations and the assembly history of that stellar mass, the two key parameters in the modern galaxy formation paradigm. WFC3/UV/ACS/WFC 11710 The Extreme Globular Cluster System of Abell 1689: The Ultimate Test of Universal Formation Efficiency The stellar masses of the most luminous galaxies poorly represent the masses of the halos in which they reside. However, recent studies of the very rich globular cluster (GC) populations in the centers of galaxy clusters point toward an apparently linear scaling of the number of GCs with the total core mass of the galaxy cluster. Thus, unlike for the stars in cD galaxies, GC formation in these systems appears to have proceeded with a roughly universal mass conversion efficiency. GCs are also distinct in that their spatial distributions are more extended than the starlight, and recent simulations suggest that they follow the mass density profile of the merged dark matter halos that formed stars at high redshift. To provide a definitive test of the universal efficiency hypothesis requires measuring the number of GCs in the most massive galaxy clusters, where the number should be a factor of 5 or more greater than seen in M87. Likewise, the relationship between GCs and mass density can only be tested in systems where the total mass and mass density are well-determined. Fortunately, the imaging power of HST brings the GC population of Abell 1689, the most extreme high-mass lensing cluster, into range. Estimates of the size of the A1689 GC population from available data suggest an unprecedented 100, 000 GCs, but this number is based on the tip of the iceberg and is extremely uncertain. We propose to obtain the first accurate measurement of the number of GCs and their density profile in this extraordinary system – the most massive and most distant GC system ever studied – and thus make the ultimate test of the universal GC formation hypothesis. Our deep I-band image will also provide a stringent “null-detection” test of several known z>7 galaxy candidates and improve the mass model of the system by increasing the number of usable lensed background galaxies. Finally, we will take deep multi-band parallel observations with WFC3/IR to help in quantifying the abundance of rare faint red objects.

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/IR 11644

A Dynamical-Compositional Survey of the Kuiper Belt: A New Window Into the Formation of the Outer Solar System

The eight planets overwhelmingly dominate the solar system by mass, but their small numbers, coupled with their stochastic pasts, make it impossible to construct a unique formation history from the dynamical or compositional characteristics of them alone. In contrast, the huge numbers of small bodies scattered throughout and even beyond the planets, while insignificant by mass, provide an almost unlimited number of probes of the statistical conditions, history, and interactions in the solar system. To date, attempts to understand the formation and evolution of the Kuiper Belt have largely been dynamical simulations where a hypothesized starting condition is evolved under the gravitational influence of the early giant planets and an attempt is made to reproduce the current observed populations. With little compositional information known for the real Kuiper Belt, the test particles in the simulation are free to have any formation location and history as long as they end at the correct point. Allowing compositional information to guide and constrain the formation, thermal, and collisional histories of these objects would add an entire new dimension to our understanding of the evolution of the outer solar system. While ground based compositional studies have hit their flux limits already with only a few objects sampled, we propose to exploit the new capabilities of WFC3 to perform the first ever large-scale dynamical-compositional study of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and their progeny to study the chemical, dynamical, and collisional history of the region of the giant planets. The sensitivity of the WFC3 observations will allow us to go up to two magnitudes deeper than our ground based studies, allowing us the capability of optimally selecting a target list for a large survey rather than simply taking the few objects that can be measured, as we have had to do to date. We have carefully constructed a sample of 120 objects which provides both overall breadth, for a general understanding of these objects, plus a large enough number of objects in the individual dynamical subclass to allow detailed comparison between and within these groups. These objects will likely define the core Kuiper Belt compositional sample for years to come. While we have many specific results anticipated to come from this survey, as with any project where the field is rich, our current knowledge level is low, and a new instrument suddenly appears which can exploit vastly larger segments of the population, the potential for discovery — both anticipated and not — is extraordinary.

SpaceRef staff editor.