Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4002

By SpaceRef Editor
December 7, 2005
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NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4002

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE – Continuing to collect World Class Science


PERIOD COVERED: UT November 06, 2005 (DOY 340)


ACS/HRC 10556

Neutral Gas at Redshift z=0.5

Damped Lyman-alpha systems {DLAs} are used to track the bulk of the neutral hydrogen gas in the Universe. Prior to HST UV spectroscopy, they could only be studied from the ground at redshifts z>1.65. However, HST has now permitted us to discover 41 DLAs at z<1.65 in our previous surveys. Followup studies of these systems are providing a wealth of information about the evolution of the neutral gas phase component of the Universe. But one problem is that these 41 low-redshift systems are spread over a wide range of redshifts spanning nearly 70% of the age of the Universe. Consequently, past surveys for low-redshift DLAs have not been able to offer very good precision in any small redshift regime. Here we propose an ACS-HRC- PR200L spectroscopic survey in the redshift interval z=[0.37, 0.7] which we estimate will permit us to discover another 41 DLAs. This will not only allow us to double the number of low-redshift DLAs, but it will also provide a relatively high-precision regime in the low-redshift Universe that can be used to anchor evolutionary studies. Fortunately DLAs have high absorption equivalent width, so ACS-HRC-PR200L has high-enough resoultion to perform this proposed MgII-selected DLA survey.

ACS/HRC 10609

Sizes, Shapes, and SEDs: Searching for Mass Segregation in the Super Star Clusters of Nearby Starburst

We propose to investigate mass segregation and star cluster evolution and dissolution processes in Super Star Cluster {SSC} populations in a small sample of nearby starburst galaxies. ACS/HRC and NICMOS images of these nearby {d < 10 Mpc} starbursts can reveal evidence for mass segregation in the form of variations in size, shape, and color of the SSCs as a function of wavelength. The compactness of the cluster light profiles, and hence the stellar mass distributions, is a critical indicator of the likely fate of an SSC: long life and eventual evolution into a globular-like cluster, or dissolution. These observations will allow us to generate spectral energy distributions {SEDs} for a large sample of the SSCs at all ages and extinctions in each system. We will combine the SEDs with population synthesis models and existing ground- based spectra and Spitzer images to estimate ages, reddenings, and masses thus derive a more complete picture of the star-formation histories of the galaxies. For the brightest and most likely virialized among the SSCs we will also constrain their initial mass functions {IMFs} using high- resolution spectroscopy. Conclusions about IMFs from this technique require detailed information about the SSC concentration, light profiles, and virial status, which are only possible via ACS data. The proposed observations will provide an extensive and comprehensive data set for a large number of SSCs. By addressing the issues of mass segregation, evaporation, and destruction of SSC populations, the proposed observations will provide strong constraints on theories regarding the processes involved in the formation and evolution of SSCs and globular clusters. Given the dire predictions for the lifetime of HST, and its tremendous impact on the study of SSCs, we feel that the proposed observations not only are necessary and timely {even urgent} but will also be a fitting { and possibly final} addition to HST's legacy in the study of starburst SSCs.

ACS/WFC 10491

A Snapshot Survey of the most massive clusters of galaxies

We propose a snapshot survey of a sample of 124 high X-ray luminosity clusters in the redshift range 0.3-0.7. Similarly luminous clusters at these redshifts frequently exhibit strong gravitational lensing. The proposed observations will provide important constraints on the nature of the cluster mass distributions and a set of optically bright, lensed galaxies for further 8-10m spectroscopy. We acknowledge the broad community interest in this sample and waive our data rights for these observations.

ACS/WFC 10523

The Halo Shape and Metallicity of Massive Spiral Galaxies

We propose to resolve the stellar populations of the halos of seven nearby, massive disk galaxies using a SNAP survey with WFC/ACS. These observations will provide star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 2-3 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch along the two principal axes and one intermediate axis of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~31 V-mag per square arcsec. This proposal will create a unique sampling of galaxy halo properties, as our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, inclination, and morphology. As function of these galaxy properties this survey will provide:- the first systematic measurement of radial light profiles and axial ratios of the diffuse stellar halos and outer disks of spiral galaxies- a comprehensive analysis of halo metallicity distributions as function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy- an unprecedented study of the stellar metallicity and age distribution in the outer disk regions where the disk truncations occur- the first comparative study of globular clusters and their field stellar populations We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process to test halo formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme.

ACS/WFC 10596

AGNs with Intermediate-mass Black Holes: A Test of the Black Hole-Bulge Paradigm

The recent progress in the study of central black holes in galactic nuclei has led to a general consensus that supermassive {10^6-10^9 solar mass} black holes are closely connected with the formation and evolutionary history of large galaxies, especially their bulge component. Two outstanding issues, however, remain unresolved. Can central black holes form in the absence of a bulge? And does the mass function of central black holes extend below 10^6 solar masses? Intermediate-mass black holes {10^4-10^6 solar masses}, if they exist, may offer important clues to the nature of the seeds of supermassive black holes. In a first systematic search using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we have recently discovered 19 Type 1 AGNs with candidate intermediate-mass black holes that reside in low-luminosity, presumably late-type host galaxies. Follow-up observations with Keck indicate that these objects obey the low-mass extension of the well-known correlation between black hole mass and bulge stellar velocity dispersion. However, very little is known about the host galaxies themselves, including the crucial question of whether they have bulges or not. We propose to obtain ACS/WFC images of this unique sample of AGNs in order to investigate the detailed structural properties of the host galaxies. We are particularly keen to determine whether the hosts contain bulges, and if so, where they lie on the fundamental plane of spheroids compared to the bulges of supermassive black holes. We will also be able to measure an accurate optical luminosity for the AGN, which is an essential ingredient to improve the current mass estimates.

ACS/WFC 10629

Are Field OB Stars Alone?

This SNAP program offers an inexpensive, simple program to search for low-mass companions of field OB stars. Do field OB stars exist in true isolation, as suggested by a recent Galactic study, or are they the tip of the iceberg on a small cluster of low-mass stars as predicted by the cluster mass function and stellar IMF? Short ACS/WFC V and I observations proposed here may easily resolve this issue for field OB stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Truly isolated OB stars represent a theoretical challenge and variation from clusters, in mode of star formation, and have important consequences for our understanding of the field stellar population in galaxies. Small clusters around the field OB stars, on the other hand, may confirm the universality of the stellar clustering law and IMF.


The link between X-ray source and stellar populations in M81

We propose to perform a deep v~26-27.0 HST-ACS survey of the nearby {3.6 Mpc} spiral galaxy M~81 in order to study the nature of its X-ray source populations detected with Chandra. For the first time in a galaxy other than the Milky-Way or the Magelanic Clouds, we will classify X-ray sources as High-Mass and Low-Mass X-ray binaries {HMXBs, LMXBs} and investigate how these populations depend on their galactic environment. The classification will be performed {a} by finding and classifying unique optical counterparts for the X-ray sources and {b} studying the stellar populations in their vicinity. Both tasks require the <0.1'' resolution of HST-ACS which matches well the positional accuracy of Chandra. Finally we will use these results together with X-ray binary evolution synthesis models in order to constrain X-ray binary {XRB} evolution channels. These data will also be a great resource for studies of the star-formation and star- cluster populations in one of the prototypical spiral galaxies.


Kinematics and morphology of the most massive field disk galaxies at z>1

We propose to obtain 1 orbit NIC-2 images of a sample of the 15 most massive galaxies found at $1 < z < 1.3$. These were culled from over 20, 000 Keck spectra collected as part of DEEP and are unique among high redshift massive galaxy samples in being kinematically selected. We intend to test whether these potentially very young galaxies are likely precursors to massive local disks, assuming no further merging. NIC-2 images provide rest-frame optical morphologies that will show whether they are normal disky systems or instead more disturbed looking objects with multiple subcomponents, mergers, peculiar structure, etc. NIC-2 provides near-IR resolutions sufficient to enable measurements of bulges and disks subcomponents. The near-IR will fill a critical gap in the broad-band SED photometry of the galaxy and its subcomponents to estimate mean stellar ages and stellar masses and to assess whether old stellar bulges and disks are in place at that time. Finally, this sample will yield the first statistically significant results on the $z > 1$ evolution of the Tully-Fisher relation for massive galaxies. In addition, we propose parallel observations with ACS WFC {V and I bands} and WFPC2 {I-band}. These will target up to 700 galaxies at redshifts 0.7 … 1.2 for which the DEEP2 survey has obtained precision redshifts and high-resolution kinematic data. The added HST morphology and color information will allow a variety of detailed studies on dynamical, structural, and photometric evolution of galaxies.


NICMOS Post-SAA calibration – CR Persistence Part 2

A new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50 minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in parallel in all three NICMOS Cameras. The POST-SAA darks will be non-standard reference files available to users with a USEAFTER date/time mark. The keyword ‘USEAFTER=date/time’ will also be added to the header of each POST-SAA DARK frame. The keyword must be populated with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8 times per day so each POST-SAA DARK will need to have the appropriate time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw and processed images will be archived as POST-SAA DARKSs. Generally we expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within 50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such maps to remove the CR persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the NICMOS detectors.

WFPC2 10745


This calibration proposal is the Cycle 14 routine internal monitor for WFPC2, to be run weekly to monitor the health of the cameras. A variety of internal exposures are obtained in order to provide a monitor of the integrity of the CCD camera electronics in both bays {both gain 7 and gain 15 — to test stability of gains and bias levels}, a test for quantum efficiency in the CCDs, and a monitor for possible buildup of contaminants on the CCD windows. These also provide raw data for generating annual super-bias reference files for the calibration pipeline.


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

HSTARS: (None)


17605-1 – Off-line +DD,+C,&+B SPA Trim Relays @340/1358z


                           SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL
FGS GSacq                 11                     11
FGS REacq                  01                     01
OBAD with Maneuver    24                     24


12 Strings Off-Line Flash Report

On DOY 2005/340, Ops Request 17605-1 was successfully executed to command the -AA and +D SPAs back on-line via IP-099: Procedure to Modify Commanding of the -AA and +D SPA Trim Relays: Restoration Procedure. The Ops Request also called upon IP-105: Procedure to Modify Commanding of the +DD, +C, and +B SPA Trim Relays: Update Procedure, to command +DD (Batt 1), +C (Batt 2) and +B (Batt 4) SPAs off-line.

EPS Spacecraft Engineers (SEs) remained on-console for two orbits following commanding. EPS SEs observed the SPA trim relays opening as expected.

The Electrical Power Subsystem continues to perform as expected. EPS SE will closely monitor the battery pressures, battery temperatures, structure current, and section currents on a daily basis to evaluate the response to these changes.

SpaceRef staff editor.