Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4660

By SpaceRef Editor
July 27, 2008
Filed under , ,


Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am July 24 – 5am July 25, 2008 (DOY 206/0900z-207/0900z)


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.

NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8795

NICMOS Post-SAA Calibration – CR Persistence Part 6

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.

NIC3 11332

NICMOS Cycle 16 Time Dependent Flat Fields

This proposal obtains sequences of NICMOS narrow, medium and broad band filter flat fields for camera 1. In cameras 2 and 3, parallel observations will allow us to obtain high S/N flats for all spectral elements.

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 11156

Monitoring Active Atmospheres on Uranus and Neptune

We propose Snapshot observations of Uranus and Neptune to monitor changes in their atmospheres on time scales of weeks and months. Uranus equinox is only months away, in December 2007. Hubble Space Telescope observations during the past several years {Hammel et al. 2005, Icarus 175, 284 and references therein} have revealed strongly wavelength- dependent latitudinal structure, the presence of numerous visible-wavelength cloud features in the northern hemisphere, at least one very long-lived discrete cloud in the southern hemisphere, and in 2006 the first dark spot ever seen on Uranus. Long-term ground-based observations {Lockwood and Jerzekiewicz, 2006, Icarus 180, 442; Hammel and Lockwood 2007, Icarus 186, 291} reveal seasonal brightness changes whose origins are not well understood. Recent near- IR images of Neptune obtained using adaptive optics on the Keck Telescope, together with HST observations {Sromovsky et al. 2003, Icarus 163, 256 and references therein} which include previous Snapshot programs {GO 8634, 10170, 10534} show a general increase in activity at south temperate latitudes until 2004, when Neptune returned to a rather Voyager-like appearance. Further Snapshot observations of these two dynamic planets will elucidate the nature of long-term changes in their zonal atmospheric bands and clarify the processes of formation, evolution, and dissipation of discrete albedo features.

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 11544

The Dynamical Legacy of Star Formation

We propose to use WFPC2 to conduct a wide-field imaging survey of the young cluster IC348. This program, in combination with archival HST observations, will allow us to measure precise proper motions for individual cluster members, characterizing the intra-cluster velocity dispersion and directly studying the dynamical signatures of star formation and early cluster evolution. Our projected astrometric precision (~1 mas in each epoch) will allow us to calculate individual stellar velocities to unprecedented precision (<0.5 mas/yr; <1 km/s) and directly relate these velocities to observed spatial substructure within the cluster. This survey will also allow us to probe small-scale star formation physics by searching for high-velocity stars ejected from decaying multiple systems, expanding our knowledge of multiplicity in dense environments, and identifying new substellar and planetary-mass cluster members based on kinematic membership tests.

WFPC2/NIC2 11173

Completing an Accurate Map of M31 Microlensing

The halo microlensing masses detected in the MACHO survey (claimed to compose about 20% of the Galaxy’s mass) represent a major enigma in astrophysics, one that must be effectively cross-examined by an independent test. We have completed a large, densely-sampled survey of M31 that can reveal in another galaxy such a halo microlensing signal if it exists. In a previous HST/ACS+WFPC2 program (GO 10273, Cycle 13, 16 orbits) we were able to learn considerably more about a subsample of these M31 microlensing events. We were pleased to find that in most cases we could isolate the source star for each event, find its baseline flux and colors (essential for ruling out classes of confusing variable stars), test for misidentification of background supernovae, and measure the Einstein parameters, which constrain the range of most likely lens mass. (These Cycle 13 results are published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.) We propose to finish the job, taking a similar series of exposures to more than double the sample of well-constrained microlensing events, which together with the larger ground-based sample for which we are completing our analyses will provide 20-30 M31 bona fide microlensing events observed by HST. This will be done via a series of targeted PC exposures, meant to maximize the number of candidates studied, one (or two) at a time. A sample of this size and quality should be sufficient to settle the issue of a significant contribution to the halos of galaxies by stellar-mass lenses. Furthermore, if there is a surplus of such microlensing events above what might be expected from stars alone, the higher quality of information will allow us to more accurately describe the spatial distribution of these lenses. We will also complete several unique studies of M31 stellar populations, both in support of the microlensing measurement and in their own right.


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

HSTARS: (None)



                                SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSacq                        9                    9
FGS REacq                        1                    1
OBAD with Maneuver              20                  20


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