Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5137

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2010
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am July 13 – 5am July 14, 2010 (DOY 194/09:00z-195/09:00z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 10 10
FGS REAcq 8 8
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7



ACS/WFC3 11599

Distances of Planetary Nebulae from SNAPshots of Resolved Companions

Reliable distances to individual planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Milky Way are needed to advance our understanding of their spatial distribution, birthrates, influence on galactic chemistry, and the luminosities and evolutionary states of their central stars (CSPN). Few PNe have good distances, however. One of the best ways to remedy this problem is to find resolved physical companions to the CSPN and measure their distances by photometric main-sequence fitting. We have previously used HST to identify and measure probable companions to 10 CSPN, based on angular separations and statistical arguments only. We now propose to use HST to re-observe 48 PNe from that program for which additional companions are possibly present. We then can use the added criterion of common proper motion to confirm our original candidate companions and identify new ones in cases that could not confidently be studied before. We will image the region around each CSPN in the V and I bands, and in some cases in the B band. Field stars that appear close to the CSPN by chance will be revealed by their relative proper motion during the 13+ years since our original survey, leaving only genuine physical companions in our improved and enlarged sample. This study will increase the number of Galactic PNe with reliable distances by 50 percent and improve the distances to PNe with previously known companions.

COS/FUV 11687

SNAPing Coronal Iron

This is a Snapshot Survey to explore two forbidden lines of highly ionized iron in late-type coronal sources. Fe XII 1349 (T~ 2 MK) and Fe XXI 1354 (T~ 10 MK) — well known to Solar Physics — have been detected in about a dozen cool stars, mainly with HST/STIS. The UV coronal forbidden lines are important because they can be observed with velocity resolution of better than 15 km/s, whereas even the state-of-the-art X-ray spectrometers on Chandra can manage only 300 km/s in the kilovolt band where lines of highly ionized iron more commonly are found. The kinematic properties of hot coronal plasmas, which are of great interest to theorists and modelers, thus only are accessible in the UV at present. The bad news is that the UV coronal forbidden lines are faint, and were captured only in very deep observations with STIS. The good news is that 3rd-generation Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, slated for installation in HST by SM4, in a mere 25 minute exposure with its G130M mode can duplicate the sensitivity of a landmark 25-orbit STIS E140M observation of AD Leo, easily the deepest such exposure of a late-type star so far. Our goal is to build up understanding of the properties of Fe XII and Fe XXI in additional objects beyond the current limited sample: how the lineshapes depend on activity, whether large scale velocity shifts can be detected, and whether the dynamical content of the lines can be inverted to map the spatial morphology of the stellar corona (as in “Doppler Imaging”). In other words, we want to bring to bear in the coronal venue all the powerful tricks of spectroscopic remote sensing, well in advance of the time that this will be possible exploiting the corona’s native X-ray radiation. The 1290-1430 band captured by side A of G130M also contains a wide range of key plasma diagnostics that form at temperatures from below 10, 000 K (neutral lines of CNO), to above 200, 000 K (semi-permitted O V 1371), including the important bright multiplets of C II at 1335 and Si IV at 1400; yielding a diagnostic gold mine for the subcoronal atmosphere. Because of the broad value of the SNAP spectra, beyond the coronal iron project, we waive the normal proprietary rights.

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 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 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 deg. C to the ambient instrument temperature (~ +5 deg. 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.

WFC3/IR 11931

IR Signal Non-Linearity Calibration

These observations will be used to quantify the non-linear signal behavior of the IR channel, as well as to create the IR channel non-linearity calibration reference file. The non-linearity behavior of each pixel in the detector will be investigated through the use of flat fields, while the photometric behavior of point sources will be studied using observations of 47 Tuc.

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 12090

WFC3/UVIS Photometric Calibration – The Spatial Stability of the Detector

The current WFC3 UVIS and IR calibrations are almost entirely based on observations taken in small subarrays at the corners of UVIS1 and UVIS2, and at the center of the IR detector. One of our filters, F336W, shows higher than expected throughput in this filter by 4%. The source of this has not been narrowed down and we need to determine whether the photometry is consistent over the detector or if it is just the region of the subarray (corner) that is showing higher counts. A preliminary investigation suggests significant structure in the flat field for this filter. We request two orbits to move a spectrophotometric standard, GD153, in a small subarray over 23 dither positions on UVIS1 and UVIS2. We note that F336W is one of the most popular filters on WFC3.


A Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury – I

We propose to image the north east quadrant of M31 to deep limits in the UV, optical, and near-IR. HST imaging should resolve the galaxy into more than 100 million stars, all with common distances and foreground extinctions. UV through NIR stellar photometry (F275W, F336W with WFC3/UVIS, F475W and F814W with ACS/WFC, and F110W and F160W with WFC3/NIR) will provide effective temperatures for a wide range of spectral types, while simultaneously mapping M31’s extinction. Our central science drivers are to: understand high-mass variations in the stellar IMF as a function of SFR intensity and metallicity; capture the spatially-resolved star formation history of M31; study a vast sample of stellar clusters with a range of ages and metallicities. These are central to understanding stellar evolution and clustered star formation; constraining ISM energetics; and understanding the counterparts and environments of transient objects (novae, SNe, variable stars, x-ray sources, etc.). As its legacy, this survey adds M31 to the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds as a fundamental calibrator of stellar evolution and star-formation processes for understanding the stellar populations of distant galaxies. Effective exposure times are 977s in F275W, 1368s in F336W, 4040s in F475W, 4042s in F814W, 699s in F110W, and 1796s in F160W, including short exposures to avoid saturation of bright sources. These depths will produce photon-limited images in the UV. Images will be crowding-limited in the optical and NIR, but will reach below the red clump at all radii. The images will reach the Nyquist sampling limit in F160W, F475W, and F814W.

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 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.