Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #4779

By SpaceRef Editor
March 5, 2009
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HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT #4799

Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am February 25 – 5am February 26, 2009 (DOY 056/1000z-057/1000z)

OBSERVATIONS SCHEDULED

FGS 11943

Binaries at the Extremes of the H-R Diagram

We propose to use HST/Fine Guidance Sensor 1r to survey for binaries among some of the most massive, least massive, and oldest stars in our part of the Galaxy. FGS allows us to spatially resolve binary systems that are too faint for ground-based, speckle or optical long baseline interferometry, and too close to resolve with AO. We propose a SNAP-style program of single orbit FGS TRANS mode observations of very massive stars in the cluster NGC 3603, luminous blue variables, nearby low mass main sequence stars, cool subdwarf stars, and white dwarfs. These observations will help us to (1) identify systems suitable for follow up studies for mass determination, (2) study the role of binaries in stellar birth and in advanced evolutionary states, (3) explore the fundamental properties of stars near the main sequence-brown dwarf boundary, (4) understand the role of binaries for X-ray bright systems, (5) find binaries among ancient and nearby subdwarf stars, and (6) help calibrate the white dwarf mass – radius relation.

WFPC2 11161

Revealing the Explosion Geometry of Nearby GRB-SNe

The connection between gamma-ray bursts and Type Ibc supernovae is well-established in broad terms. However, our recent identification of an intermediate class of sub-energetic GRBs, and the overall overlap in Nickel production between GRB-SNe and ordinary SNe Ibc suggest that the properties leading to the production of a relativistic engine are yet to be uncovered. A fundamental difference between the two classes of explosions may be imprinted in the overall geometry of the explosion. The relativistic component of GRBs is known to be highly collimated, but it is unclear if the SN blast is spherical or mildly collimated as well. Here we propose HST observations of the late (>30 days) decay tails of two GRB-SNe as an independent measure of the Nickel mass synthesized in the explosion. A comparison to the Nickel mass inferred from the peak brightness of the SNe will provide a direct measure of the explosion asymmetry, since at late time the explosion is essentially spherical. These observations will form the core of a multi-wavelength (optical, X-ray, radio) effort to fully characterize all aspects of the explosions, from the energy and geometry of the relativistic material (VLA, Chandra) to the early SN evolution (Keck, Magellan). The proposed observations require two slow-response (>30 days) TOOs, ideally suited to the 2-gyro operations of HST.

WFPC2 11974

High-resolution Imaging for 9 Very Bright, Spectroscopically Confirmed, Group-scale Lenses

There are large samples of strong lenses that probe small (galaxy) scale masses (e.g., SLACS, SQLS, COSMOS). There are also large samples of strong lenses that probe large (rich cluster) scale masses (e.g., various rich Abell clusters, the Hennawi et al. 2008 SDSS sample). The sample of strong lenses that probe intermediate (group/cluster-core) scale masses, however, is sparse, and so any significant additions to this sample are important. Here we present a sample of strong lenses that not only probe these intermediate scales but are also quite bright, since the sample is based almost entirely upon data from the SDSS, a relatively shallow and poor-resolution survey, at least in comparison to most other strong lens hunting grounds, such as COSMOS and CFHTLS. What we lack are the high-resolution imaging data needed to construct detailed lensing models, to probe the mass and light profiles of the lensing galaxies and their environments, and to characterize the morphologies of the lensed (source) galaxies. Only HST can provide these data, and so we are proposing here for 81 orbits of deep WFPC2 F450W, F606W and F814W imaging, for 9 of our best and brightest intermediate-scale lensing systems with known spectroscopic redshifts and with Einstein radii between 4 and 8 arcsec.

WFPC2 11978

Luminous and Dark Matter in Disk Galaxies from Strong Lensing and Stellar Kinematics

The formation of realistic disk galaxies within the LCDM paradigm is still an unsolved problem. Theory is only now beginning to make predictions for how dark matter halos respond to galaxy formation and for the properties of disk galaxies. Measuring the density profiles of dark matter halos on galaxy scales is therefore a strong test for the standard paradigm of galaxy formation, offering great potential for discovery. However, from an observational point of view, the degeneracy between the stellar and dark matter contributions to galaxy rotation curves remains a major road block. Strong gravitational lensing, when coupled to spatially-resolved kinematics and stellar population models, can solve this long-standing problem. Unfortunately, this joint methodology could not be exploited so far due to the paucity of known edge-on spiral lenses. Exploiting the full SDSS-DR7 archive we have identified a new sample of exactly these systems. We propose multi-color HST imaging to confirm and measure a sample of twenty spiral lenses, covering a range of bulge to disk ratios. By combining dynamical lensing and stellar population information for this unique sample we will deliver the first statistical constraints on halos and disk properties, and a new stringent test of disk galaxy formation theories.

WFPC2 11986

Completing HST’s Local Volume Legacy

Nearby galaxies offer one of the few laboratories within which stellar populations can be tied to multi-wavelength observations. They are thus essential for calibrating and interpreting key astrophysical observables, such as broad-band luminosities, durations and energy input from starbursts, and timescales of UV, H-alpha, and FIR emission. The study of stellar populations in nearby galaxies requires high-resolution observations with HST, but HST’s legacy for this limited set of galaxies remains incomplete.

As a first attempt to establish this legacy, The ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury (ANGST) began observations in late 2006. ANGST was designed to carry out a uniform multi-color survey of a volume-limited sample of ~70 nearby galaxies that could be used for systematic studies of resolved stellar populations. The resulting data provide nuanced constraints on the processes which govern star formation and galaxy evolution, for a well-defined population of galaxies. All photometry for the survey has been publicly released.

However, the failure of ACS 4.5 months after ANGST began taking data led to a drastic reduction in the planned survey. The loss is two-fold. First, the goals of completeness and uniformity were greatly compromised, impacting global comparison studies. Second, the variety of observed star formation histories was reduced. Given that we have never found two galaxies with identical star formation histories, and fully sampling the population allows us to catch those few systems whose star formation rates and metallicities place the strongest constraints on key astrophysical processes.

Here we propose WFPC2 observations of all remaining galaxies within the Local Volume (D<3.5Mpc) for which current HST observations are insufficient for meaningful stellar population studies. We will use these observations for research on the star formation histories of individual galaxies and the Local Volume, detailed calibrations of star formation rate indicators, and the durations of starbursts. We will also make them publicly available through the ANGST archive to support future research. The proposed observations will finally complete a lasting legacy of HST

FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:

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

HSTARS: (None)

COMPLETED OPS REQUEST: (None)

COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)

                        SCHEDULED      SUCCESSFUL

FGS GSAcq               06                 06
FGS REAcq               08                 08
OBAD with Maneuver      28                 28

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: (None)

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