Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #5016

By SpaceRef Editor
January 22, 2010
Filed under , ,


Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 20 – 5am January 21, 2010 (DOY 020/10:00z-021/10:00z)


ACS/WFC3 11879

CCD Daily Monitor (Part 1)

This program comprises basic tests for measuring the read noise and dark current of the ACS WFC and for tracking the growth of hot pixels. The recorded frames are used to create bias and dark reference images for science data reduction and calibration. This program will be executed four days per week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) for the duration of Cycle 17. To facilitate scheduling, this program is split into three proposals. This proposal covers 352 orbits (22 weeks) from 31 August 2009 to 31 January 2010.

ACS/WFC3 11882

CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

All the data for this program is acquired using internal targets (lamps) only, so all of the exposures should be taken during Earth occultation time (but not during SAA passages). This program emulates the ACS pre-flight ground calibration and post launch SMOV testing (program 8948), so that results from each epoch can be directly compared. Extended Pixel Edge Response (EPER) and First Pixel Response (FPR) data will be obtained over a range of signal levels for the Wide Field Channel (WFC). The High Resolution Channel (HRC) visits have been removed since it could not be repaired during SM4.

NIC2/WFC3/IR 11548

Infrared Imaging of Protostars in the Orion A Cloud: The Role of Environment in Star Formation

We propose NICMOS and WFC3/IR observations of a sample of 252 protostars identified in the Orion A cloud with the Spitzer Space Telescope. These observations will image the scattered light escaping the protostellar envelopes, providing information on the shapes of outflow cavities, the inclinations of the protostars, and the overall morphologies of the envelopes. In addition, we ask for Spitzer time to obtain 55-95 micron spectra of 75 of the protostars. Combining these new data with existing 3.6 to 70 micron photometry and forthcoming 5-40 micron spectra measured with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we will determine the physical properties of the protostars such as envelope density, luminosity, infall rate, and outflow cavity opening angle. By examining how these properties vary with stellar density (i.e. clusters vs. groups vs. isolation) and the properties of the surrounding molecular cloud; we can directly measure how the surrounding environment influences protostellar evolution, and consequently, the formation of stars and planetary systems. Ultimately, this data will guide the development of a theory of protostellar evolution.

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/MA2 11674

A STIS NUV Search for Shocked-Interstellar and Circumstellar Gas towards the Debris Disk System, HD 61005

Circumstellar debris disks provide the principle window for investigating planet formation and evolution on timescales of 10-100 Myr. Unlike their younger counterparts, debris disks no longer contain primordial material. The dust observed in these objects is instead produced by collisional erosion of larger parent bodies in the developing planetary system. Currently, only five confirmed debris disks have detected circumstellar gas, studied primarily through UV absorption spectroscopy. The exact production mechanisms for this replenished gas are presently poorly constrained. However, the few objects studied so far have revealed a wide range of intriguing properties, including a stable Keplerian gas disk maintained by its high carbon abundance (Beta Pic), and a rapidly expelled population of gas produced in collisions between unstable planetesimals (Sigma Her). To add to this important set of observations, we propose to obtain NUV STIS spectroscopy of the debris disk host, HD 61005, a nearly edge-on debris disk notable for its swept asymmetric morphology. These observations allow the likely detection of circumstellar gas, making HD 61005 the first solar-type debris disk host with gas detected in this way. Thus, the proposed observations provide the unique opportunity to study gas in a debris disk analogous to our early solar system. In addition to potentially detecting circumstellar gas associated with this system, HD 61005 offers the possibility of tracing interstellar bow-shocked gas. HD 61005 is a unique debris disk in terms of its significant interaction with the interstellar medium. The proposed observations will, therefore, be the first to directly probe the interaction between a debris disk and its surrounding interstellar material. STIS is ideally suited for this experiment, providing sensitive NUV spectra with the required balance between spectral resolution and wavelength coverage.

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 11202

The Structure of Early-type Galaxies: 0.1-100 Effective Radii

The structure, formation and evolution of early-type galaxies is still largely an open problem in cosmology: how does the Universe evolve from large linear scales dominated by dark matter to the highly non-linear scales of galaxies, where baryons and dark matter both play important, interacting, roles? To understand the complex physical processes involved in their formation scenario, and why they have the tight scaling relations that we observe today (e.g. the Fundamental Plane), it is critically important not only to understand their stellar structure, but also their dark- matter distribution from the smallest to the largest scales. Over the last three years the SLACS collaboration has developed a toolbox to tackle these issues in a unique and encompassing way by combining new non-parametric strong lensing techniques, stellar dynamics, and most recently weak gravitational lensing, with high-quality Hubble Space Telescope imaging and VLT/Keck spectroscopic data of early-type lens systems. This allows us to break degeneracies that are inherent to each of these techniques separately and probe the mass structure of early-type galaxies from 0.1 to 100 effective radii. The large dynamic range to which lensing is sensitive allows us both to probe the clumpy substructure of these galaxies, as well as their low-density outer haloes. These methods have convincingly been demonstrated, by our team, using smaller pilot-samples of SLACS lens systems with HST data. In this proposal, we request observing time with WFC3 and NICMOS to observe 53 strong lens systems from SLACS, to obtain complete multi-color imaging for each system. This would bring the total number of SLACS lens systems to 87 with completed HST imaging and effectively doubles the known number of galaxy-scale strong lenses. The deep HST images enable us to fully exploit our new techniques, beat down low- number statistics, and probe the structure and evolution of early-type galaxies, not only with a uniform data-set an order of magnitude larger than what is available now, but also with a fully- coherent and self-consistent methodological approach!

WFC3/IR 11915

IR Internal Flat Fields

This program is the same as 11433 (SMOV) and depends on the completion of the IR initial alignment (Program 11425). This version contains three instances of 37 internal orbits: to be scheduled early, middle, and near the end of Cycle 17, in order to use the entire 110-orbit allocation.

In this test, we will study the stability and structure of the IR channel flat field images through all filter elements in the WFC3-IR channel. Flats will be monitored, i.e. to capture any temporal trends in the flat fields and delta flats produced. High signal observations will provide a map of the pixel-to- pixel flat field structure, as well as identify the positions of any dust particles.

WFC3/UVIS 11628

Globular Cluster Candidates for Hosting a Central Black Hole

We are continuing our study of the dynamical properties of globular clusters and we propose to obtain surface brightness profiles for high concentration clusters. Our results to date show that the distribution of central surface brightness slopes do not conform to standard models. This has important implications for how they form and evolve, and suggest the possible presence of central intermediate-mass black holes. From our previous archival proposals (AR-9542 and AR-10315), we find that many high concentration globular clusters do not have flat cores or steep central cusps, instead they show weak cusps. Numerical simulations suggest that clusters with weak cusps may harbor intermediate-mass black holes and we have one confirmation of this connection with omega Centauri. This cluster shows a shallow cusp in its surface brightness profile, while kinematical measurements suggest the presence of a black hole in its center. Our goal is to extend these studies to a sample containing 85% of the Galactic globular clusters with concentrations higher than 1.7 and look for objects departing from isothermal behavior. The ACS globular cluster survey (GO-10775) provides enough objects to have an excellent coverage of a wide range of galactic clusters, but it contains only a couple of the ones with high concentration. The proposed sample consists of clusters whose light profile can only be adequately measured from space- based imaging. This would take us close to completeness for the high concentration cases and therefore provide a more complete list of candidates for containing a central black hole. The dataset will also be combined with our existing kinematic measurements and enhanced with future kinematic studies to perform detailed dynamical modeling.

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 11908

Cycle 17: UVIS Bowtie Monitor

Ground testing revealed an intermittent hysteresis type effect in the UVIS detector (both CCDs) at the level of ~1%, lasting hours to days. Initially found via an unexpected bowtie-shaped feature in flatfield ratios, subsequent lab tests on similar e2v devices have since shown that it is also present as simply an overall offset across the entire CCD, i.e., a QE offset without any discernable pattern. These lab tests have further revealed that overexposing the detector to count levels several times full well fills the traps and effectively neutralizes the bowtie. Each visit in this proposal acquires a set of three 3×3 binned internal flatfields: the first unsaturated image will be used to detect any bowtie, the second, highly exposed image will neutralize the bowtie if it is present, and the final image will allow for verification that the bowtie is gone.


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 8 8
FGS REAcq 7 7
OBAD with Maneuver 7 7


SpaceRef staff editor.