Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #5015

By SpaceRef Editor
January 20, 2010
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 19 – 5am January 20, 2010 (DOY 019/10:00z- 020/10:00z)


S/C 12046

COS FUV DCE Memory Dump

Whenever the FUV detector high voltage is on, count rate and current draw information is collected, monitored, and saved to DCE memory. Every 10 msec the detector samples the currents from the HV power supplies (HVIA, HVIB) and the AUX power supply (AUXI). The last 1000 samples are saved in memory, along with a histogram of the number of occurrences of each current value.

In the case of a HV transient (known as a “crackle” on FUSE), where one of these currents exceeds a preset threshold for a persistence time, the HV will shut down, and the DCE memory will be dumped and examined as part of the recovery procedure. However, if the current exceeds the threshold for less than the persistence time (a “mini-crackle” in FUSE parlance), there is no way to know without dumping DCE memory. By dumping and examining the histograms regularly, we will be able to monitor any changes in the rate of “mini-crackles” and thus learn something about the state of the detector.

STIS/CCD 11606

Dynamical Hypermassive Black Hole Masses

We will use STIS spectra to derive the masses of 5 hypermassive black holes (HMBHs). From the observed scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids, these objects are expected to reside at the nuclei of host galaxies with stellar velocity dispersions greater than 320 km/s. These 5 targets have confirmed regular gas distributions on the scales of the black hole sphere of influence. It is essential that the sphere of influence is resolved for accurate determinations of black hole mass (0.1″). These scales cannot be effectively observed from the ground. Only two HMBHs have had their masses modeled so far; it is impossible to draw any general conclusions about the connections between HMBH mass and their massive host galaxies. With these 5 targets we will determine whether these HMBHs deviate from the scaling relations defined by less massive spheroids. A larger sample will allow us to firmly anchor the high mass end of the correlation between black hole mass and stellar velocity dispersion, and other scaling relations. Therefore we are also conducting a SNAPshot program with which we expect to detect a further 24 HMBH candidates for STIS observation in future cycles. At the completion of this project we will have populated the high mass end of the scaling relations with the sample sizes enjoyed by less massive spheroids.

STIS/CCD 11844

CCD Dark Monitor Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.

STIS/CCD 11846

CCD Bias Monitor-Part 1

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the bias in the 1×1, 1×2, 2×1, and 2×2 bin settings at gain=1, and 1×1 at gain = 4, to build up high-S/N superbiases and track the evolution of hot columns.

STIS/CCD/MA1 11737

The Distance Dependence of the Interstellar N/O Abundance Ratio: A Gould Belt Influence?

The degree of elemental abundance homogeneity in the interstellar medium is a function of the enrichment and mixing processes that govern galactic chemical evolution. Observations of young stars and the interstellar gas within ~500 pc of the Sun have revealed a local ISM that is so well- mixed it is having an impact on ideas regarding the formation of extrasolar planets. However, the situation just beyond the local ISM is not so clear. Sensitive UV absorption line measurements have recently revealed a pattern of inhomogeneities in the interstellar O, N, and Kr gas-phase abundances at distances of ~500 pc and beyond that appear nucleosynthetic in origin rather than due to dust depletion. In particular, based on a sample of 13 sightlines, Knauth et al. (2006) have found that the nearby stars (d < 500 pc) exhibit a mean interstellar N/O abundance ratio that is significantly higher (0.18 dex) than that toward the more distant stars. Interestingly, all of their sightlines lie in the sky vicinity of the Gould Belt of OB associations, molecular clouds, and diffuse gas encircling the Sun at a distance of ~400 pc. Is it possible that mixing processes have not yet smoothed out the recent ISM enrichment by massive stars in the young Belt region? By measuring the interstellar N/O ratios in a strategic new sample of sightlines with STIS, we propose to test the apparent N/O homogeneity inside the Gould Belt and determine if the apparent decline in the N/O ratio with distance is robust and associated with the Belt region. STIS/MA1/MA2 11857 STIS Cycle 17 MAMA Dark Monitor This proposal monitors the behavior of the dark current in each of the MAMA detectors. The basic monitor takes two 1380s ACCUM darks each week with each detector. However, starting Oct 5, pairs are only included for weeks that the LRP has external MAMA observations planned. The weekly pairs of exposures for each detector are linked so that they are taken at opposite ends of the same SAA free interval. This pairing of exposures will make it easier to separate long and short term temporal variability from temperature dependent changes. For both detectors, additional blocks of exposures are taken once every six months. These are groups of five 1314s FUV-MAMA Time-Tag darks or five 3x315s NUV ACCUM darks distributed over a single SAA-free interval. This will give more information on the brightness of the FUV MAMA dark current as a function of the amount of time that the HV has been on, and for the NUV MAMA will give a better measure of the short term temperature dependence. WFC3/ACS/IR 11677 Is 47 Tuc Young? Measuring its White Dwarf Cooling Age and Completing a Hubble Legacy With this proposal we will firmly establish the age of 47 Tuc from its cooling white dwarfs. 47 Tuc is the nearest and least reddened of the metal-rich disk globular clusters. It is also the template used for studying the giant branches of nearby resolved galaxies. In addition, the age sensitive magnitude spread between the main sequence turnoff and horizontal branch is identical for 47 Tuc, two bulge globular clusters and the bulge field population. A precise relative age constraint for 47 Tuc, compared to the halo clusters M4 and NGC 6397, both of which we recently dated via white dwarf cooling, would therefore constrain when the bulge formed relative to the old halo globular clusters. Of particular interest is that with the higher quality ACS data on NGC 6397, we are now capable with the technique of white dwarf cooling of determining ages to an accuracy of +/-0.4 Gyrs at the 95% confidence level. Ages derived from the cluster turnoff are not currently capable of reaching this precision. The important role that 47 Tuc plays in galaxy formation studies, and as the metal-rich template for the globular clusters, makes the case for a white dwarf cooling age for this metal-rich cluster compelling. Several recent analyses have suggested that 47 Tuc is more than 2 Gyrs younger than the Galactic halo. Others have suggested an age similar to that of the most metal poor globular clusters. The current situation is clearly uncertain and obviously a new approach to age dating this important cluster is required. With the observations of 47 Tuc, this project will complete a legacy for HST. It will be the third globular cluster observed for white dwarf cooling; the three covering almost the full metallicity range of the cluster system. Unless JWST has its proposed bluer filters (700 and 900 nm) this science will not be possible perhaps for decades until a large optical telescope is again in space. Ages for globular clusters from the main sequence turnoff are less precise than those from white dwarf cooling making the science with the current proposal truly urgent. WFC3/IR/S/C 11929 IR Dark Current Monitor Analyses of ground test data showed that dark current signals are more reliably removed from science data using darks taken with the same exposure sequences as the science data, than with a single dark current image scaled by desired exposure time. Therefore, dark current images must be collected using all sample sequences that will be used in science observations. These observations will be used to monitor changes in the dark current of the WFC3-IR channel on a day- to-day basis, and to build calibration dark current ramps for each of the sample sequences to be used by Gos in Cycle 17. For each sample sequence/array size combination, a median ramp will be created and delivered to the calibration database system (CDBS). WFC3/UVIS 11577 Opening New Windows on the Antennae with WFC3 We propose to use WFC3 to provide key observations of young star clusters in “The Antennae” (NGC4038/39). Of prime importance is the WFC3’s ability to push the limiting UV magnitude FIVE mag deeper than our previous WFPC2 observations. This corresponds to pushing the limiting cluster mass from ~10**5 to ~10**3 solar masses for cluster ages ~10**8 yrs. In addition, the much wider field of view of the WFC3 IR channel will allow us to map out both colliding disks rather than just the Overlap Region between them. This will be especially important for finding the youngest clusters that are still embedded in their placental cocoons. The extensive set of narrow- band filters will provide an effective means for determining the properties of shocks, which are believed to be a primary triggering mechanism for star formation. We will also use ACS in parallel with WFC3 to observe portions of both the northern and southern tails at no additional orbital cost. Finally, one additional primary WFC3 orbit will be used to supplement exisiting HST observations of the star-forming “dwarf” galaxy at the end of the southern tail. Hence, when completed we will have full UBVI + H_alpha coverage (or more for the main galaxy) of four different environments in the Antennae. In conjunction with the extensive multi-wavelength database we have collected (both HST and ground based) these observations will provide answers to fundamental questions such as: How do these clusters form and evolve? How is star formation triggered? How do star clusters affect the local and global ISM, and the evolution of the galaxy as a whole? The Antennae galaxies are the nearest example of a major disk–disk merger, and hence may represent our best chance for understanding how mergers form tremendous numbers of clusters and stars, both in the local universe and during galaxy assembly at high redshift. WFC3/UVIS 11657 The Population of Compact Planetary Nebulae in the Galactic Disk We propose to secure narrow- and broad-band images of compact planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Galactic Disk to study the missing link of the early phases of post-AGB evolution. Ejected AGB envelopes become PNe when the gas is ionized. PNe expand, and, when large enough, can be studied in detail from the ground. In the interim, only the HST capabilities can resolve their size, morphology, and central stars. Our proposed observations will be the basis for a systematic study of the onset of morphology. Dust properties of the proposed targets will be available through approved Spitzer/IRS spectra, and so will the abundances of the alpha-elements. We will be able thus to explore the interconnection of morphology, dust grains, stellar evolution, and populations. The target selection is suitable to explore the nebular and stellar properties across the galactic disk, and to set constraints on the galactic evolutionary models through the analysis of metallicity and population gradients. WFC3/UVIS 11905 WFC3 UVIS CCD Daily Monitor The behavior of the WFC3 UVIS CCD will be monitored daily with a set of full-frame, four-amp bias and dark frames. A smaller set of 2Kx4K subarray biases are acquired at less frequent intervals throughout the cycle to support subarray science observations. The internals from this proposal, along with those from the anneal procedure (Proposal 11909), will be used to generate the necessary superbias and superdark reference files for the calibration pipeline (CDBS). WFC3/UVIS/IR 11644 A Dynamical-Compositional Survey of the Kuiper Belt: A New Window Into the Formation of the Outer Solar System The eight planets overwhelmingly dominate the solar system by mass, but their small numbers, coupled with their stochastic pasts, make it impossible to construct a unique formation history from the dynamical or compositional characteristics of them alone. In contrast, the huge numbers of small bodies scattered throughout and even beyond the planets, while insignificant by mass, provide an almost unlimited number of probes of the statistical conditions, history, and interactions in the solar system. To date, attempts to understand the formation and evolution of the Kuiper Belt have largely been dynamical simulations where a hypothesized starting condition is evolved under the gravitational influence of the early giant planets and an attempt is made to reproduce the current observed populations. With little compositional information known for the real Kuiper Belt, the test particles in the simulation are free to have any formation location and history as long as they end at the correct point. Allowing compositional information to guide and constrain the formation, thermal, and collisional histories of these objects would add an entire new dimension to our understanding of the evolution of the outer solar system. While ground based compositional studies have hit their flux limits already with only a few objects sampled, we propose to exploit the new capabilities of WFC3 to perform the first ever large-scale dynamical-compositional study of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and their progeny to study the chemical, dynamical, and collisional history of the region of the giant planets. The sensitivity of the WFC3 observations will allow us to go up to two magnitudes deeper than our ground based studies, allowing us the capability of optimally selecting a target list for a large survey rather than simply taking the few objects that can be measured, as we have had to do to date. We have carefully constructed a sample of 120 objects which provides both overall breadth, for a general understanding of these objects, plus a large enough number of objects in the individual dynamical subclass to allow detailed comparison between and within these groups. These objects will likely define the core Kuiper Belt compositional sample for years to come. While we have many specific results anticipated to come from this survey, as with any project where the field is rich, our current knowledge level is low, and a new instrument suddenly appears which can exploit vastly larger segments of the population, the potential for discovery — both anticipated and not — is extraordinary. 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)

FGS GSAcq 6 6
FGS REAcq 9 9
OBAD with Maneuver 4 4


SpaceRef staff editor.