Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4436

By SpaceRef Editor
August 29, 2007
Filed under , ,
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4436

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 August 28, 2007 (DOY 240)


WFPC2 10599

Multi-color imaging of two 1 Gyr old debris disks within 20 pc of the Sun: Astrophysical mirrors of our Kuiper Belt

We report the first scattered light detections of two debris disk around an F star and a K star using optical coronagraphy and the Hubble Space Telescope. With ages ~1 Gyr, these are the oldest debris disks thus far seen in the optical. We propose deep, multi-roll angle coronagraphic imaging with HST ACS and NICMOS to confirm and characterize the disks in terms of structure and composition. The disks appear to have belt-like morphology that is consistent with the existence of planetary companions or other perturbing bodies. Since these disks are close to our Kuiper Belt in an evolutionary context, detailed understanding of their mass, structure and composition will provide a fresh perspective for inferring the history and properties of our own trans-Neptunian region.

WFPC2 10915

ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey

Existing HST observations of nearby galaxies comprise a sparse and highly non-uniform archive, making comprehensive comparative studies among galaxies essentially impossible. We propose to secure HST’s lasting impact on the study of nearby galaxies by undertaking a systematic, complete, and carefully crafted imaging survey of ALL galaxies in the Local Universe outside the Local Group. The resulting images will allow unprecedented measurements of: {1} the star formation history {SFH} of a >100 Mpc^3 volume of the Universe with a time resolution of Delta[log{t}]=0.25; {2} correlations between spatially resolved SFHs and environment; {3} the structure and properties of thick disks and stellar halos; and {4} the color distributions, sizes, and specific frequencies of globular and disk clusters as a function of galaxy mass and environment. To reach these goals, we will use a combination of wide-field tiling and pointed deep imaging to obtain uniform data on all 72 galaxies within a volume-limited sample extending to ~3.5 Mpc, with an extension to the M81 group. For each galaxy, the wide-field imaging will cover out to ~1.5 times the optical radius and will reach photometric depths of at least 2 magnitudes below the tip of the red giant branch throughout the limits of the survey volume. One additional deep pointing per galaxy will reach SNR~10 for red clump stars, sufficient to recover the ancient SFH from the color-magnitude diagram. This proposal will produce photometric information for ~100 million stars {comparable to the number in the SDSS survey} and uniform multi- color images of half a square degree of sky. The resulting archive will establish the fundamental optical database for nearby galaxies, in preparation for the shift of high- resolution imaging to the near-infrared.

WFPC2 11030

WFPC2 WF4 Temperature Reduction #3

In the fall of 2005, a serious anomaly was found in images from the WF4 CCD in WFPC2. The WF4 CCD bias level appeared to have become unstable, resulting in sporadic images with either low or zero bias level. The severity and frequency of the problem was rapidly increasing, making it possible that WF4 would soon become unusable if no work-around were found. Examination of bias levels during periods with frequent WFPC2 images showed low and zero bias episodes every 4 to 6 hours. This periodicity is driven by cycling of the WFPC2 Replacement Heater, with the bias anomalies occurring at the temperature peaks. The other three CCDs {PC1, WF2, and WF3} appear to be unaffected and continue to operate properly. Lowering the Replacement Heater temperature set points by a few degrees C effectively eliminates the WF4 anomaly. On 9 January 2006, the upper set point of the WFPC2 Replacement Heater was reduced from 14.9C to 12.2C. On 20 February 2006, the upper set point was reduced from 12.2C to 11.3C, and the lower set point was reduced from 10.9C to 10.0C. These changes restored the WF4 CCD bias level; however, the bias level has begun to trend downwards again, mimicking its behavior in late 2004 and early 2005. A third temperature reduction is planned for March 2007. We will reduce the upper set point of the heater from 11.3C to 10.4C and the lower set point from 10.0C to 9.1C. The observations described in this proposal will test the performance of WFPC2 before and after this temperature reduction. Additional temperature reductions may be needed in the future, depending on the performance of WF4. Orbits: internal 26, external 1.

WFPC2 11033

Full Moon Earth Flats Closeout

Flat field exposures will be obtained by observing the moonlit Earth with the broadband WFPC2 filters F606W and F814W, which saturate in the minimum exposure time on the sunlit Earth. These observations will be used to improve the flats currently in the pipeline and are part of the WFPC2 closeout operations. Because CTE effects are large for star flats and small for full field illumination, Earth flats are the superior technique.

WFPC2 11113

Binaries in the Kuiper Belt: Probes of Solar System Formation and Evolution

The discovery of binaries in the Kuiper Belt and related small body populations is powering a revolutionary step forward in the study of this remote region. Three quarters of the known binaries in the Kuiper Belt have been discovered with HST, most by our snapshot surveys. The statistics derived from this work are beginning to yield surprising and unexpected results. We have found a strong concentration of binaries among low-inclination Classicals, a possible size cutoff to binaries among the Centaurs, an apparent preference for nearly equal mass binaries, and a strong increase in the number of binaries at small separations. We propose to continue this successful program in Cycle 16; we expect to discover at least 13 new binary systems, targeted to subgroups where these discoveries can have the greatest impact.

WFPC2 11218

Snapshot Survey for Planetary Nebulae in Globular Clusters of the Local Group

Planetary nebulae {PNe} in globular clusters {GCs} raise a number of interesting issues related to stellar and galactic evolution. The number of PNe known in Milky Way GCs, 4, is surprisingly low if one assumes that all stars pass through a PN stage. However, it is likely that the remnants of stars now evolving in Galactic GCs leave the AGB so slowly that any ejected nebula dissipates long before the star becomes hot enough to ionize it. Thus there should not be ANY PNe in Milky Way GCs–but there are four! It has been suggested that these PNe are the result of mergers of binary stars within GCs, i.e., that they are descendants of blue stragglers. The frequency of occurrence of PNe in external galaxies poses more questions, because it shows a range of almost an order of magnitude. I propose a Snapshot survey aimed at discovering PNe in the GC systems of Local Group galaxies more distant than the Magellanic Clouds. These clusters, some of which may be much younger than their counterparts in the Milky Way, might contain many more PNe than those of our own galaxy. I will use the standard technique of emission-line and continuum imaging, which easily discloses PNe.

WFPC2 11289

SL2S: The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey

Recent systematic surveys of strong galaxy-galaxy lenses {CLASS, SLACS, GOODS, etc.} are producing spectacular results for galaxy masses roughly below a transition mass M~10^13 Mo. The observed lens properties and their evolution up to z~0.2, consistent with numerical simulations, can be described by isothermal elliptical potentials. In contrast, modeling of giant arcs in X-ray luminous clusters {halo masses M >~10^13 Mo} favors NFW mass profiles, suggesting that dark matter halos are not significantly affected by baryon cooling. Until recently, lensing surveys were neither deep nor extended enough to probe the intermediate mass density regime, which is fundamental for understanding the assembly of structures. The CFHT Legacy Survey now covers 125 square degrees, and thus offers a large reservoir of strong lenses probing a large range of mass densities up to z~1. We have extracted a list of 150 strong lenses using the most recent CFHTLS data release via automated procedures. Following our first SNAPSHOT proposal in cycle 15, we propose to continue the Hubble follow-up targeting a larger list of 130 lensing candidates. These are intermediate mass range candidates {between galaxies and clusters} that are selected in the redshift range of 0.2-1 with no a priori X-ray selection. The HST resolution is necessary for confirming the lensing candidates, accurate modeling of the lenses, and probing the total mass concentration in galaxy groups up to z~1 with the largest unbiased sample available to date.


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


10963 – GSAcq(1,2,1) results in Fine Lock Back-up (1,0,1)

GSAcq (1,2,1) scheduled at 241/06:40:56 resulted in Fine Lock Back-up (1,0,1) using FGS 1.

OBAD #1 RSS: 2125.80 OBAD #2 RSS: 7.20 OBAD MAP RSS:



                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL 

FGS GSacq               07                  07 
FGS REacq               05                  05 
OBAD with Maneuver      24                  24 


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