Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4403

By SpaceRef Editor
July 13, 2007
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4403

Notice: Due to the conversion of some ACS WFC or HRC observations into WFPC2, or NICMOS observations after the loss of ACS CCD science capability in January, there may be an occasional discrepancy between a proposal’s listed (and correct) instrument usage and the abstract that follows it.


– Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT July 12, 2007 (DOY 193)


FGS 11210

The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems

Are all planetary systems coplanar? Concordance cosmogony makes that prediction. It is, however, a prediction of extrasolar planetary system architecture as yet untested by direct observation for main sequence stars other than the Sun. To provide such a test, we propose to carry out FGS astrometric studies on four stars hosting seven companions. Our understanding of the planet formation process will grow as we match not only system architecture, but formed planet mass and true distance from the primary with host star characteristics for a wide variety of host stars and exoplanet masses. We propose that a series of FGS astrometric observations with demonstrated 1 millisecond of arc per-observation precision can establish the degree of coplanarity and component true masses for four extrasolar systems: HD 202206 {brown dwarf+planet}; HD 128311 {planet+planet}, HD 160691 = mu Arae {planet+planet}, and HD 222404AB = gamma Cephei {planet+star}. In each case the companion is identified as such by assuming that the minimum mass is the actual mass. For the last target, a known stellar binary system, the companion orbit is stable only if coplanar with the AB binary orbit.

FGS 11212

Filling the Period Gap for Massive Binaries

The current census of binaries among the massive O-type stars is seriously incomplete for systems in the period range from years to millennia because the radial velocity variations are too small and the angular separations too close for easy detection. Here we propose to discover binaries in this observational gap through a Faint Guidance Sensor SNAP survey of relatively bright targets listed in the Galactic O Star Catalog. Our primary goal is to determine the binary frequency among those in the cluster/association, field, and runaway groups. The results will help us assess the role of binaries in massive star formation and in the processes that lead to the ejection of massive stars from their natal clusters. The program will also lead to the identification of new, close binaries that will be targets of long term spectroscopic and high angular resolution observations to determine their masses and distances. The results will also be important for the interpretation of the spectra of suspected and newly identified binary and multiple systems.

NIC3 11080

Exploring the Scaling Laws of Star Formation

As a variety of surveys of the local and distant Universe are approaching a full census of galaxy populations, our attention needs to turn towards understanding and quantifying the physical mechanisms that trigger and regulate the large-scale star formation rates {SFRs} in galaxies.

WFPC2 10818

Very Young Globular Clusters in M31 ?

We propose to use HST’s unique high spatial resolution imaging capabilities to conclusively confirm or refute the presence of alleged very young globular clusters in M31. Such young globular clusters with ages < 3 Gyr are not present in our galaxy, and, if real, would lead to a striking difference in the age distribution of the GCs between M31 and the Millky Way. If the apparent presence of very young globular clusters in M31 is confirmed through our proposed ACS imaging {now WFPC2 imaging} with HST, this would suggest major differences in the history of assembly of the two galaxies, with probable substantial late accretion into M31 which did not occur in our own galaxy.

WFPC2 10902

The Nearest Luminous Blue Compact Galaxies: A Window on Galaxy Formation

As we move to intermediate and high redshifts, Luminous Blue Compact Galaxies {LBCGs} become increasingly common. The nearest LBCGs, with their violent starbursts and rich populations of super star clusters {SSCs} and globular clusters {GCs}, thus provide ideal laboratories for studying galaxy evolution. Many LBCGs appear to be involved in mergers between dwarf galaxies, triggering their starbursts. The starburst regions in LBCGs consist of numerous young star clusters, whose populations are both easily measurable with HST and easily modelled. Studying cluster populations provides a powerful probe of the starburst and merger history which is possible neither for closer objects {of which there are too few} or for those at high redshift {which are too far away}. We have previously studied the closest LBCG with WFPC2 and found hundreds of bright compact SSCs and GCs. In particular, we found a population of intermediate-age {~2 Gyr} GCs, indicating a past event of massive cluster formation. We now propose a multi-wavelength study of the three other LBCGs with the highest known number of SSCs. The extinction is small in these galaxies and age estimates robust. The age distribution of GCs and SSCs will be used to study the past evolution of the galaxies. For each LBCG, we will map its cluster formation history, unveiling its merger and starburst history, and thereby shed light on some of the processes involved in galaxy evolution at high redshift.

WFPC2 11079

Treasury Imaging of Star Forming Regions in the Local Group: Complementing the GALEX and NOAO Surveys

We propose to use WFPC2 to image the most interesting star-forming regions in the Local Group galaxies, to resolve their young stellar populations. We will use a set of filters including F170W, which is critical to detect and characterize the most massive stars, to whose hot temperatures colors at longer wavelengths are not sensitive. WFPC2’s field of view ideally matches the typical size of the star-forming regions, and its spatial resolution allows us to measure indvidual stars, given the proximity of these galaxies. The resulting H-R diagrams will enable studies of star- formation properties in these regions, which cover largely differing metallicities {a factor of 17, compared to the factor of 4 explored so far} and characteristics. The results will further our understanding of the star-formation process, of the interplay between massive stars and environment, the properties of dust, and will provide the key to interpret integrated measurements of star-formation indicators {UV, IR, Halpha} available for several hundreds more distant galaxies. Our recent deep surveys of these galaxies with GALEX {FUV, NUV} and ground-based imaging {UBVRI, Halpha, [OIII] and [SII]} provided the identification of the most relevant SF sites. In addition to our scientific analysis, we will provide catalogs of HST photometry in 6 bands, matched corollary ground-based data, and UV, Halpha and IR integrated measurements of the associations, for comparison of integrated star-formation indices to the resolved populations. We envisage an EPO component.

WFPC2 11178

Probing Solar System History with Orbits, Masses, and Colors of Transneptunian Binaries

The recent discovery of numerous transneptunian binaries {TNBs} opens a window into dynamical conditions in the protoplanetary disk where they formed as well as the history of subsequent events which sculpted the outer Solar System and emplaced them onto their present day heliocentric orbits. To date, at least 47 TNBs have been discovered, but only about a dozen have had their mutual orbits and separate colors determined, frustrating their use to investigate numerous important scientific questions. The current shortage of data especially cripples scientific investigations requiring statistical comparisons among the ensemble characteristics. We propose to obtain sufficient astrometry and photometry of 23 TNBs to compute their mutual orbits and system masses and to determine separate primary and secondary colors, roughly tripling the sample for which this information is known, as well as extending it to include systems of two near-equal size bodies. To make the most efficient possible use of HST, we will use a Monte Carlo technique to optimally schedule our observations.


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

HSTARS: (None)


                              SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL 

FGS GSacq                     10                   10 
FGS REacq                      4                    4 
OBAD with Maneuver            28                   28 



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