Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5177

By SpaceRef Editor
September 19, 2010
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to Collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: 5am September 8 – 5am September 9, 2010 (DOY 251/09:00z-252/09:00z)


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


12384 – GSAcq(1,2,1) at 251/10:36:01 and REAcq(1,2,1) at 251/12:12:09z and 251/13:48:00z all resulted in fine lock backup on FGS1.

Observations possibly affected: STIS 26-29 Proposal ID#11668 & WFC3 74-75 Proposal ID#11912

12385 – REAcq(1,2,1) at 251/17:32:32z failed.

Observations affected: COS 70-72 Proposal ID#11535; WFC3 76-77 Proposal ID#11914

12387 – GSAcq(1,2,1) at 252/05:38:36z Fails to RGA Hold, Search radius Limit Exceeded on FGS1.

Observations affected: ACS36-39 Proposal ID#12292


12386 – GSAcq(1,2,1) at 235/15:57:36 required three attempts to achieve CT-DV on FGS1. The acquisition was successful.

Observations possibly affected: STIS 11-13 Proposal ID#11847; COS 15 Proposal ID#11895; WFC3 9 Proposal ID#11638



FGS GSAcq 8 7
FGS REAcq 7 6
OBAD with Maneuver 6 6



ACS/WFC 11996

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 3)

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 308 orbits (19.25 weeks) from 21 June 2010 to 1 November 2010.

ACS/WFC 12210

SLACS for the Masses: Extending Strong Lensing to Lower Masses and Smaller Radii

Strong gravitational lensing provides the most accurate possible measurement of mass in the central regions of early-type galaxies (ETGs). We propose to continue the highly productive Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) Survey for strong gravitational lens galaxies by observing a substantial fraction of 135 new ETG gravitational-lens candidates with HST-ACS WFC F814W Snapshot imaging. The proposed target sample has been selected from the seventh and final data release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and is designed to complement the distribution of previously confirmed SLACS lenses in lens-galaxy mass and in the ratio of Einstein radius to optical half-light radius. The observations we propose will lead to a combined SLACS sample covering nearly two decades in mass, with dense mapping of enclosed mass as a function of radius out to the half-light radius and beyond. With this longer mass baseline, we will extend our lensing and dynamical analysis of the mass structure and scaling relations of ETGs to galaxies of significantly lower mass, and directly test for a transition in structural and dark-matter content trends at intermediate galaxy mass. The broader mass coverage will also enable us to make a direct connection to the structure of well-studied nearby ETGs as deduced from dynamical modeling of their line-of-sight velocity distribution fields. Finally, the combined sample will allow a more conclusive test of the current SLACS result that the intrinsic scatter in ETG mass-density structure is not significantly correlated with any other galaxy observables. The final SLACS sample at the conclusion of this program will comprise approximately 130 lenses with known foreground and background redshifts, and is likely to be the largest confirmed sample of strong-lens galaxies for many years to come.


COS-GTO: Deep Search for an Oxygen Atmosphere on Callisto

We plan a deep search for 1304? and 1356? O emission from Callisto, to detect or place strong limits on the presence of a hypothesized O2 atmosphere on this moon (Liang et al. 2005). Tenuous oxygen atmospheres on Europa and Ganymede have been detected by HST using these emission lines, but searches for O emission from Callisto have not been successful (Strobel et al. 2002). The Liang et al. models predict O emission at levels comparable to the Strobel et al. upper limit, so the improved sensitivity of COS may be able to detect the emission, and thus Callisto’s O2 atmosphere, for the first time.

WFC3/UV 11638

Illuminating the HI Structure of a Proto-cluster Region at z=2.84

We propose very deep intermediate-band Lyman alpha imaging in the field of a newly-discovered proto-cluster region surrounding the extremely luminous QSO HS1549+19 at z=2.844. The large structure, initially discovered in a spectroscopic survey of galaxies in fields surrounding the brightest QSOs at z=2.5-2.8, represents an ideal laboratory for studying the response of the intergalactic medium to a source of ionizing photons that exceeds the UV background by factors >1000. Within a single pointing of WFC3-UVIS there are already more

than 45 known Lyman alpha emitters, most of which are already spectroscopically confirmed, and at least 3 of which are giant “Lyman alpha blobs”. Many of the objects have properties similar to those expected from the process of fluorescence, in which Lyman alpha emission is induced by the UV radiation field of the QSO in any HI gas that dense enough to remain partially self-shielded. Fortuitously, the F467M filter (Stromgren “b”) in WFC3-UVIS is a perfect match to Lyman alpha at z=2.844. In combination with an equally deep broad-band continuum image, the observations will allow the construction of a Lyman alpha map tracing dense gas throughout the inner parts of a proto-cluster region at sub-kpc resolution. The ability to measure the spatial sub-structure and surface brightness distribution of Lya emission, relative to known protocluster galaxies and AGN, will illuminate the “cosmic web” in a dense region caught in a violent stage of formation.


Cosmo-chronometry and Elemental Abundance Distribution of the Ancient Star HE1523-0901

We propose to obtain near-UV HST/STIS spectroscopy of the extremely metal-poor, highly r-process-enhanced halo star HE 1523-0901, in order to produce the most complete abundance distribution of the heaviest stable elements, including platinum, osmium, and lead. These HST abundance data will then be used to estimate the initial abundances of the long-lived radioactive elements thorium and uranium, and by comparison with their observed abundances, enable an accurate age determination of this ancient star. The use of radioactive chronometers in stars provides an independent lower limit on the age of the Galaxy, which can be compared with alternative limits set by globular clusters and by analysis from WMAP. Our proposed observations of HE1523-0901 will also provide significant new information about the early chemical history of the Galaxy, specifically, the nature of the first generations of stars and the types of nucleosynthetic processes that occurred at the onset of Galactic chemical evolution.

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.

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.

WFC3/IR 11738


Distant luminous radio galaxies are among the brightest known galaxies in the early Universe, pinpoint likely progenitors of dominant cluster galaxies and are unique laboratories for studying massive galaxy formation. Spectacular images with the ACS and NICMOS of one such object, the “Spiderweb Galaxy” at z = 2.2, show in exquisite detail, hierarchical merging occurring 11 Gyr ago. By imaging 3 additional Spiderweb-like galaxies we wish to study this potentially crucial phase of massive galaxy evolution, when hierarchical merging, galaxy downsizing and AGN feedback are all likely to be occurring. Properties of the complete sample of Spiderweb galaxies will be used to (i) constrain models for the formation and evolution of the most massive galaxies that dominate rich clusters and (ii) investigate the nature of chain and tadpole galaxies, a fundamental but poorly understood constituent of the early Universe.

We shall image rest-frame UV and optical continuum emission from 3 radio galaxies with 2.4 < z < 3.8 that appear clumpy and large in shallow WFPC/PC observations. The new observations will typically reach ~2 magnitudes fainter over 20-40 times larger area than previously. Photometric and morphological parameters will be measured for satellite galaxies ("flies") in the clumpy massive hosts and for galaxies in ~ 1.5 Mpc x 1.5 Mpc regions of surrounding protoclusters. Locations, sizes, elongations, clumpiness, masses, and star formation rates of the merging satellite and protocluster galaxies will be compared with new state of the art simulations. Combination of ACS and WFC3 images will help disentangle the properties of the young and old populations. Specific goals include: (i) investigating star formation histories of the satellite galaxies and the extended emission, (ii) studying “downsizing” and merging scenarios and (iii) measuring the statistics of linear galaxies and relating them to models for the formation of massive galaxies and to the properties of the important but enigmatic class of chain/tadpole galaxies in the HUDF. WFC3/IR 12181 The Atmospheric Structure of Giant Hot Exoplanets Characterization of close-in giant exoplanets has proceeded rapidly over the past few years, due largely to Spitzer and HST observations in transiting systems. Low resolution thermal emission spectra of over two dozen planets have been measured by Spitzer, and HST observations of a few key planets have indicated unusual molecular abundances via transmission spectroscopy. However, current models for the atmospheric structure of these worlds exhibit degeneracies wherein different combinations of temperature and molecular abundance profiles can fit the same Spitzer data for each planet. Fortunately, the advent of the IR capability on HST/WFC3 allows us to solve this major problem in exoplanet science. We propose to inaugurate a Large HST program that is scientifically complementary to Spitzer, Kepler, and CoRoT exoplanet results. We will obtain transmission spectroscopy of the 1.4-micron water band in a sample of 13 planets, using the G141 grism on WFC3. Among the abundant molecules, only water absorbs at this wavelength, and our measurement of water abundance will enable us to break the degeneracies in the Spitzer results with minimal model assumptions. We will also use the G141 grism to observe secondary eclipses for 7 very hot giant exoplanets at 1.5-microns, including several bright systems in the Kepler and CoRoT fields. The strong temperature sensitivity of the thermal continuum at 1.5-microns provides high leverage on atmospheric temperature for these worlds, again helping to break degeneracies in interpreting the Spitzer data. Moreover, our precise eclipse photometry, in combination with extant Spitzer data, will enable us to extrapolate the thermal continuum to optical wavelengths. Kepler and CoRoT teams will be thereby able to subtract the thermal contribution from their increasingly precise measurements of optical eclipses, and measure, or place extremely stringent limits on, the albedo of these exotic worlds. WFC3/UV/IR 12234 Differentiation in the Kuiper belt: a Search for Silicates on Icy Bodies. We currently have a large on-going program (Go Program 11644, 120 orbits) to exploit the superb stability and photometric characteristics of HST and the broad range in wavelength coverage of the WFC3 to make broad-band vis/IR spectral observations of a large sample of Kuiper belt objects. Though the survey is currently only ~50% complete, the quality and unprecedented signal-to-noise of these observations has revealed the existence of a previously undiscovered spectral variability not explainable within our current understanding of these objects. A possible explanation for this variability is that with this faint set of Kuiper belt objects, we are beginning to see the difference between larger differentiated objects and smaller non-differentiated objects. Its seems that the small and likely undifferentiated objects are exhibiting silicate features that affect our photometry – features not exhibited by the icy mantles of larger icy bodies. We propose a small add-on survey to dramatically increase the scientific results of our large program. The proposed observations will use the proven capabilities of WFC3 to make broad and narrow-band photometric observations to detect spectral features in the 1.0-1.3 micron range of a small subset of our sources. The 13 targets have been carefully selected to cover the range of spectral variability detected in our large program as well as sample the entire dynamical range and physical sizes of these targets. These observations will allow the identification of undifferentiated Kuiper belt objects by detection of their silicate features. As a probe for differentiation, these observations could constrain the natal locations of different Kuiper belt classes, a constraint currently unavailable to formation models. This small set of observations will allow the calibration of the spectral variability seen in our large program, and drastically enhance the scientific output of our full Cycle 17 sample. ACS/WFC 12292 SWELLS: Doubling the Number of Disk-dominated Edge-on Spiral Lens Galaxies The formation of realistic disk galaxies within the LCDM cosmology is still largely an unsolved problem. Theory is now beginning to make predictions for how dark matter halos respond to galaxy formation, and for the properties of disk galaxies. Measuring the density profiles of dark matter halos on galaxy scales is therefore a strong test for the standard paradigm of galaxy formation, offering great potential for discovery. However, the degeneracy between the stellar and dark matter contributions to galaxy rotation curves remains a major obstacle. Strong gravitational lensing, when combined with spatially resolved kinematics and stellar population models, can solve this long-standing problem. Unfortunately, this joint methodology could not be exploited until recently due to the paucity of known edge-on spiral lenses. We have developed and demonstrated an efficient technique to find exactly these systems. During supplemental cycle-16 we discovered five new spiral lens galaxies, suitable for rotation curve measurements. We propose multi-color HST imaging of 16 candidates and 2 partially-imaged confirmed systems, to measure a sample of eight new edge-on spiral lenses. This program will at least double the number of known disk-dominated systems. This is crucial for constraining the relative contribution of the disk, bulge and dark halo to the total density profile. 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 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. WFC3/UVIS 11914 UVIS Earth Flats This program is an experimental path finder for Cycle 18 calibration. Visible-wavelength flat fields will be obtained by observing the dark side of the Earth during periods of full moon illumination. The observations will consist of full-frame streaked WFC3 UVIS imagery: per 22- min total exposure time in a single “dark-sky” orbit, we anticipate collecting 7000 e/pix in F606W or 4500 e/pix in F814W. To achieve Poisson S/N > 100 per pixel, we require at least 2 orbits of F606W and 3 orbits of F814W.

For UVIS narrowband filters, exposures of 1 sec typically do not saturate on the sunlit Earth, so we will take sunlit Earth flats for three of the more-commonly used narrowband filters in Cycle 17 plus the also-popular long-wavelength quad filters, for which we get four filters at once.

Why not use the Sunlit Earth for the wideband visible-light filters? It is too bright in the visible for WFC3 UVIS minimum exposure time of 0.5 sec. Similarly, for NICMOS the sunlit-Earth is too bright which saturates the detector too quickly and/or induces abnormal behaviors such as super-shading (Gilmore 1998, NIC 098-011). In the narrowband visible and broadband near- UV is not too bright (predictions in Cox et al. 1987 “Standard Astronomical Sources for HST: 6. Spatially Flat Fields.” and observations in ACS Program 10050).

Other possibilities? Cox et al.’s Section II.D addresses many other possible sources for flat fields, rejecting them for a variety of reasons. A remaining possibility would be the totally eclipsed moon. Such eclipses provide approximately 2 hours (1 HST orbit) of opportunity per year, so they are too rare to be generically useful. An advantage of the moon over the Earth is that the moon subtends less than 0.25 square degree, whereas the Earth subtends a steradian or more, so scattered light and light potentially leaking around the shutter presents additional problems for the Earth. Also, we’re unsure if HST can point 180 deg from the Sun.

SpaceRef staff editor.