Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #5190

By SpaceRef Editor
September 30, 2010
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to Collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: 5am September 26 – 5am September 27, 2010 (DOY 270/00:00z-270/23:59z)


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

HSTARS: (None)



Scheduled Successful
FGS GSAcq 13 13
FGS REAcq 05 05
OBAD with Maneuver 11 11



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 12209

A Strong Lensing Measurement of the Evolution of Mass Structure in Giant Elliptical Galaxies

The structure and evolution of giant elliptical galaxies provide key quantitative tests for the theory of hierarchical galaxy formation in a cold dark matter dominated universe. Strong gravitational lensing provides the only direct means for the measurement of individual elliptical galaxy masses beyond the local universe, but there are currently no large and homogeneous samples of strong lens galaxies at significant cosmological look-back time. Hence, an accurate and unambiguous measurement of the evolution of the mass-density structure of elliptical galaxies has until now been impossible. Using spectroscopic data from the recently initiated Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) of luminous elliptical galaxies at redshifts from approximately 0.4 to 0.7, we have identified a large sample of high-probability strong gravitational lens candidates at significant cosmological look-back time, based on the detection of emission-line features from more distant galaxies along the same lines of sight as the target ellipticals. We propose to observe 45 of these systems with the ACS-WFC in order to confirm the incidence of lensing and to measure the masses of the lens galaxies. We will complement these lensing mass measurements with stellar velocity dispersions from ground-based follow-up spectroscopy. In combination with similar data from the Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) Survey at lower redshifts, we will directly measure the cosmic evolution of the ratio between lensing mass and dynamical mass, to reveal the structural explanation for the observed size evolution of elliptical galaxies (at high mass). We will also measure the evolution of the logarithmic mass-density profile of massive ellipticals, which is sensitive to the details of the merging histories through which they are assembled. Finally, we will use our lensing mass-to-light measurements to translate the BOSS galaxy luminosity function into a mass function, and determine its evolution in combination with data from the original Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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.

ACS/WFC3 11882

CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

This program continues the monthly anneal that has taken place every four weeks for the last three cycles. We now obtain WFC biases and darks before and after the anneal in the same sequence as is done for the ACS daily monitor (now done 4 times per week). So the anneal observation supplements the monitor observation sets during the appropriate week. Extended Pixel Edge Response (EPER) and First Pixel Response (FPR) data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for the Wide Field Channel (WFC). This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post-launch SMOV testing (program 8948), so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. The High Resolution Channel (HRC) visits have been removed since it could not be repaired during SM4.

This program also assesses the read noise, bias structure, and amplifier cross-talk of ACS/WFC using the GAIN=1.4 A/D conversion setting. This investigation serves as a precursor to a more comprehensive study of WFC performance using GAIN=1.4.

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.

COS/FUV 11897

FUV Spectroscopic Sensitivity Monitoring

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor sensitivity in each FUV grating mode to detect any changes due to contamination or other causes.

COS/FUV 11997

FUV Internal/External Wavelength Scale Monitor

This program monitors the offsets between the wavelength scale set by the internal wavecal versus that defined by absorption lines in external targets. This is accomplished by observing two external targets in the SMC: SK191 with G130M and G160M and Cl* NGC 330 ROB B37 with G140L (SK191 is too bright to be observed with G140L). The cenwaves observed in this program are a subset of the ones used during Cycle 17. Observing all cenwaves would require a considerably larger number of orbits. Constraints on scheduling of each target are placed so that each target is observed once every ~2-3 months. Observing the two targets every month would also require a considerably larger number of orbits.

COS/NUV 11894

NUV Detector Dark Monitor

The purpose of this proposal is to 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.

COS/NUV 11896

NUV Spectroscopic Sensitivity Monitoring

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor sensitivity of each NUV grating mode to detect any changes due to contamination or other causes.

COS/NUV 12041

COS-GTO: Io Atmosphere/STIS

We will use six HST orbits with COS to observe the disk-integrated longitudinal distribution of Io’s atmosphere, and ten HST orbits with STIS to provide complementary disk-resolved information at key locations. We wil use the COS G225M grating to observe four SO2 absorption bands, which can be used to determine SO2 atmospheric density. Disk-integrated 19 micron observations of the atmosphere indicate that the anti-Jupiter hemisphere of Io has an atmospheric density roughly ten times greater than the Jupiter-facing side (Spencer et al. 2005), and mm-wave observations suggest a similar pattern. However the infrared and mm-wave observations cannot easily separate atmospheric density from atmospheric temperature, so these results are model-dependent. Sparse 2100 2300 disk-resolved observations (McGrath et al. 2000, Jessup et al. 2004) tell a consistent story, but do not cover enough of Io’s surface to provide full confirmation of the long-wavelength result. We will therefore observe Io’s disk-integrated atmospheric density at six longitudes, roughly 30, 90, 150, 210, 270, and 330 W, to confirm the 19 micron results and improve our ability to model the 19-micron data. With STIS, we plan disk-resolved 2000-3200 spectroscopy of Io’s SO2 atmosphere. Our observations will target low-latitude regions away from active plumes (in contrast to our Cycle 10 observations (Jessup et al. 2004) which targeted the Prometheus plume), to look for the effect of plumes on the atmosphere. We will also look at the variation of low-latitude atmospheric abundance with terrain type, to look for explanations for the large longitudinal variations in atmospheric pressure to be studied with COS. Finally, we will look at a variety of regions at two different times of day to determine the extent of diurnal variations in the atmosphere, which are expected if the atmosphere is dominantly supported by frost sublimation.


How Dwarf Galaxies Got That Way: Mapping Multiphase Gaseous Halos and Galactic Winds Below L*

One of the most vexing problems in galaxy formation concerns how gas accretion and feedback influence the evolution of galaxies. In high mass galaxies, numerical simulations predict the initial fuel is accreted through ‘cold’ streams, after which AGN suppress star formation to leave galaxies red and gas-poor. In the shallow potential wells that host dwarf galaxies, gas accretion can be very efficient, and “superwinds” driven either by hot gas expelled by SNe or momentum imparted by SNe and hot-star radiation are regarded as the likely source(s) of feedback. However, major doubts persist about the physics of gas accretion, and particularly about SN-driven feedback, including their scalings with halo mass and their influence on the evolution of the galaxies. While “superwinds” are visible in X-rays near the point of their departure, they generally drop below detectable surface-brightness limits at ~ 10 kpc. Cold clumps in winds can be detected as blue-shifted absorption against the galaxy’s own starlight, but the radial extent of these winds are difficult to constrain, leaving their energy, momentum, and ultimate fate uncertain. Wind prescriptions in hydrodynamical simulations are uncertain and at present are constrained only by indirect observations, e.g. by their influence on the stellar masses of galaxies and IGM metallicity. All these doubts lead to one conclusion: we do not understand gas accretion and feedback because we generally do not observe the infall and winds directly, in the extended gaseous halos of galaxies, when it is happening. To do this effectively, we must harness the power of absorption-line spectroscopy to measure the density, temperature, metallicity, and kinematics of small quantities of diffuse gas in galaxy halos. The most important physical diagnostics lie in the FUV, so this is uniquely a problem for HST and COS. We propose new COS G130M and G160M observations of 41 QSOs that probe the gaseous halos of 44 SDSS dwarf galaxies well inside their virial radii. Using sensitive absorption-line measurements of the multiphase gas diagnostics Lya, CII/IV, Si II/III/IV, and other species, supplemented by optical data from SDSS and Keck, we will map the halos of galaxies with L = 0.02 – 0.3 L*, stellar masses M* = 10^(8-10) Msun, over impact parameter from 15 – 150 kpc. These observations will directly constrain the content and kinematics of accreting and outflowing material, provide a concrete target for simulations to hit, and statistically test proposed galactic superwind models. These observations will also inform the study of galaxies at high z, where the shallow halo potentials that host dwarf galaxies today were the norm. These observations are low-risk and routine for COS, easily schedulable, and promise a major advance in our understanding of how dwarf galaxies came to be.

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.

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/U 12015

Rapid Follow-Up Observations of Tidal Disruption Events Discovered by Pan-STARRS1

We propose for rapid follow-up Chandra TOO ACIS-S observations and HST/COS NUV imaging and FUV low-resolution spectroscopy of 5 flares from the tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes discovered in the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey. With TOO observations obtained within a month of the peak of the flare, and 5 months later, we aim to 1) constrain the flare’s broadband SED and bolometric luminosity, 2) follow the decay of the flare and look for spectral evolution, and 3) place strong limits on the presence of a persistent AGN nucleus. Tidal disruption events provide a cosmic laboratory to study the physics of accretion onto black holes, and are a unique probe of the mass of black holes in the nuclei of distant galaxies.

WFC3/UV 11635

In Search of SNIb/Ic Wolf-Rayet Progenitors and Comparison with Red Supergiants (SNII Progenitors) in the Giant ScI Spiral M101

We propose to test two of the clearest predictions of the theory of evolution of massive-star evolution: 1) The formation of Wolf-Rayet stars depends strongly on these stars’ metallicity (Z), with relatively fewer WR stars forming at lower Z, and 2) Wolf-Rayet stars die as Type Ib or Ic supernovae. To carry out these tests we propose a deep, narrowband imaging survey of the massive star populations in the ScI spiral galaxy M101. Just as important, we will test the hypothesis that Superclusters like 30 Doradus are always richly populated with WR stars, and by implication that these complexes are responsible for the spectral signatures of starburst galaxies.

Our previous HST survey of the HII regions in the ScIII galaxy NGC 2403 suggested that the distribution of WR stars and RSG is a sensitive diagnostic of the recent star-forming history of these large complexes: young cores of O and WR stars are surrounded by older halos containing RSG. Theory predicts that this must change with metallicity; relatively fewer WR stars form at lower Z. A key goal of our proposal is to directly test this paradigm in a single galaxy, M101 being the ideal target. The abundance gradient across M101 (a factor of 20) suggests that relatively many more WR will be found in the inner parts of this galaxy than in the outer “suburbs”. Second, we note that WR stars are predicted to end their lives as core-collapse or pair-instability supernovae. The WR population in M101 may be abundant enough for one to erupt as a Type Ib or Ic supernova within a generation. The clear a priori identification of a WR progenitor would be a major legacy of HST. Third, we will also determine if “superclusters”, heavily populated by WR stars, are common in M101. It is widely claimed that such Superclusters produce the integrated spectral signatures of Starburst galaxies. We will be able to directly measure the numbers and emission-line luminosities of thousands of Wolf Rayet stars located in hundreds of M101 Superclusters, and correlate those numbers against the Supercluster sizes and luminosities. It is likely (but far from certain) that Supercluster sizes and emission-line luminosities are driven by their Wolf-Rayet star content. Our sample will be the largest and best-ever Supercluster/Wolf Rayet sample, an excellent local proxy for characterizing starburst galaxies’ Superclusters.

WFC3/UV 12237

Orbits, Masses, Densities, and Colors of Two Transneptunian Binaries

Binaries are the key to learning many crucial bulk properties of transneptunian objects (TNOs) including their masses. Perhaps the most interesting mass-dependent property of a TNO is its bulk density, which provides unique information about its bulk composition and interior structure. Densities have so far only been measured for a handful of binary TNO systems. This proposal seeks to determine orbits and thus masses of two more binary TNOs, both of which are also to be observed at thermal infrared wavelengths by the Herschel spacecraft. Combining the masses from Hubble with the sizes from Herschel will enable us to compute their densities. We will also obtain multi-wavelength photometric colors of the individual components of each binary system. It is imperative to link colors to the physical properties measurable in binary systems in order to use the remnant planetesimals in today’s Kuiper belt to learn more about the early history of our own solar system, and more generally about how planetesimals form in nebular disks and subsequently evolve.

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).

SpaceRef staff editor.