- Press Release
- Nov 28, 2022
NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #5018
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE DAILY REPORT #5018
Continuing to Collect World Class Science
PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 22 – 5am January 25, 2010 (DOY 022/10:00z-025/10:00z)
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).
IR Intrapixel Sensitivity
In order to characterize the periodic intrapixel sensitivity variation (IPSV) of the WFC3 IR array, we will analyze full-frame IR observations of a star field (in the Omega Centauri globular cluster) in three bandpasses (F110W, F160W, and F098M) dithered on an NxN grid. The measurements will be used to quantify systematic trends in aperture photometry of stars with pixel phase, defined as (x mod 1, y mod 1), where (x, y) is the center of the stellar image at subpixel precision. Grid sizes of N=2 and N=3 are justifed in Additional Comments of Proposal Description.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
CCD Dark Monitor Part 1
The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the darks for the STIS CCD.
The Cycles of Alpha Centauri
This is the HST part of a joint Chandra/HST observing program. The objective of the HST part is to obtain new UV spectra of both components of the Alpha Centauri binary: the primary (“Alpha Cen A”) is a near twin of the Sun, while the companion (“B”) is an early K dwarf, slightly less massive, smaller and less luminous than the Sun. The orbital period is 80 yr, and the two stars currently are separated by about 8″. The Alpha Cen system has been the subject of long term coronal X-ray monitoring by four successive generations of space observatories, and extensive UV measurements were obtained periodically during the IUE era, from the late 1970’s to late 1990’s. The present program will obtain new STIS echelle spectra of both stars, which each were observed in selected wavelength windows by GHRS in the mid-1990’s, and Alpha Cen A later by STIS in an extensive high-res program in 1999, although B unfortunately never was recorded by STIS.
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. WFC3/ACS/UVIS 11724 Direct Age Determination of the Local Group dE Galaxies NGC 147 and NGC 185 The origin of dwarf elliptical (dE) galaxies remains a mystery and the dE galaxies of the Local Group provide the best opportunity to study this galaxy class in detail. We propose to obtain ACS photometry of main sequence turnoff stars in the M31 dE satellites NGC 147 and NGC 185. Because these galaxies have little to no stars younger than 1 Gyr, resolving the main sequence turnoff is required to directly quantify their star formation histories. NGC 147 and NGC 185 are the only two dEs for which a clean measurement is feasible with the HST. This proposal was accepted in Cycle 15, but little data were taken before the failure of ACS. The main sequence turnoffs of NGC 147 and NGC 185 are expected to be at an apparent magnitude of V=29; we request F606W/F814W imaging one half magnitude fainter than this limit (three magnitudes fainter than the deepest previous dE observations). Quantifying the ratio of old to intermediate-age stars will allow us to discriminate between competing models of dE formation. On-going Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy of several hundred red giant stars in each of these two dE galaxies, coupled with dynamical modeling and spectral synthesis, will complement the ACS measurement by providing information on chemical abundance patterns, dark matter content and internal dynamics. The proposed ACS data will be the first to directly quantify the onset and duration of star formation episodes in dE galaxies, and will thereby form the cornerstone in what promises to be the most comprehensive study of this class of galaxies. 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/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/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. WFC3/IR 11631 Binary Brown Dwarfs and the L/T Transition Brown dwarfs traverse spectral types M, L and T as their atmospheric structure evolves and they cool into oblivion. This SNAPSHOT program will obtain WFC3-IR images of 45 nearby late-L and early-T dwarfs to investigate the nature of the L/T transition. Recent analyses have suggested that a substantial proportion of late-L and early-T dwarfs are binaries, comprised of an L dwarf primary and T dwarf secondary. WFC3-IR observations will let us quantify this suggestion by expanding coverage to a much larger sample, and permitting comparison of the L/T binary fraction against ?normal? ultracool dwarfs. Only eight L/T binaries are currently known, including several that are poorly resolved: we anticipate at least doubling the number of resolved systems. The photometric characteristics of additional resolved systems will be crucial to constraining theoretical models of these late-type ultracool dwarfs. Finally, our data will also be eminently suited to searching for extremely low luminosity companions, potentially even reaching the Y dwarf regime. STIS/CCD/MA1/MA2 11616 The Disks, Accretion, and Outflows (DAO) of T Tau Stars Classical T Tauri stars undergo magnetospheric accretion, power outflows, and possess the physical and chemical conditions in their disks to give rise to planet formation. Existing high resolution FUV spectra verify that this spectral region offers unique diagnostics of these processes, which have the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the interaction of a star and its accretion disk. To date the limited results are intriguing, with dramatic differences in kinematic structure in lines ranging from C IV to H2 among the few stars that have been observed. We propose to use HST/COS to survey the disks, outflows, and accretion (the DAO) of 26 CTTS and 6 WTTS in the FUV at high spectral resolution. A survey of this size is essential to establish how properties of accretion shocks, winds and disk irradiation depend on disk accretion rate. Specifically, our goals are to (1) measure the radiation from and understand the physical properties of the gas very near the accretion shock as a function of accretion rate using emission line profiles of hot lines (C IV, Si IV, N V, and He II); (2) measure the opacity, velocity, and temperature at the base of the outflow to constrain outflow models using wind absorption features; and (3) characterize the radiation incident on disks and protoplanetary atmospheres using H2 line and continuum emission and reconstructed bright Ly-alpha line emission. WFC3/ACS/UVIS 11613 GHOSTS: Stellar Outskirts of Massive Spiral Galaxies We propose to continue our highly successful GHOSTS HST survey of the resolved stellar populations of nearby, massive disk galaxies using SNAPs. These observations provide star counts and color-magnitude diagrams 2-3 magnitudes below the tip of the Red Giant Branch of the outer disk and halo of each galaxy. We will measure the metallicity distribution functions and stellar density profiles from star counts down to very low average surface brightnesses, equivalent to ~32 V-mag per square arcsec. This proposal will substantially improve our unique sampling of galaxy outskirts. Our targets cover a range in galaxy mass, luminosity, inclination, and morphology. As a function of these galaxy properties, this survey provides: – the most extensive, systematic measurement of radial light profiles and axial ratios of the diffuse stellar halos and outer disks of spiral galaxies; – a comprehensive analysis of halo metallicity distributions as function of galaxy type and position within the galaxy; – an unprecedented study of the stellar metallicity and age distribution in the outer disk regions where the disk truncations occur; – the first comparative study of globular clusters and their field stellar populations. We will use these fossil records of the galaxy assembly process to test halo formation models within the hierarchical galaxy formation scheme. ACS/WFC3 11599 Distances of Planetary Nebulae from SNAPshots of Resolved Companions Reliable distances to individual planetary nebulae (PNe) in the Milky Way are needed to advance our understanding of their spatial distribution, birthrates, influence on galactic chemistry, and the luminosities and evolutionary states of their central stars (CSPN). Few PNe have good distances, however. One of the best ways to remedy this problem is to find resolved physical companions to the CSPN and measure their distances by photometric main-sequence fitting. We have previously used HST to identify and measure probable companions to 10 CSPN, based on angular separations and statistical arguments only. We now propose to use HST to re-observe 48 PNe from that program for which additional companions are possibly present. We then can use the added criterion of common proper motion to confirm our original candidate companions and identify new ones in cases that could not confidently be studied before. We will image the region around each CSPN in the V and I bands, and in some cases in the B band. Field stars that appear close to the CSPN by chance will be revealed by their relative proper motion during the 13+ years since our original survey, leaving only genuine physical companions in our improved and enlarged sample. This study will increase the number of Galactic PNe with reliable distances by 50 percent and improve the distances to PNe with previously known companions. 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/ACS/UVIS/IR 11570 Narrowing in on the Hubble Constant and Dark Energy A measurement of the Hubble constant to a precision of a few percent would be a powerful aid to the investigation of the nature of dark energy and a potent “end-to end” test of the present cosmological model. In Cycle 15 we constructed a new streamlined distance ladder utilizing high- quality type Ia supernova data and observations of Cepheids with HST in the near-IR to minimize the dominant sources of systematic uncertainty in past measurements of the Hubble constant and reduce its total uncertainty to a little under 5%. Here we propose to exploit this new route to reduce the remaining uncertainty by more than 30%, translating into an equal reduction in the uncertainty of the equation of state of dark energy. We propose three sets of observations to reach this goal: a mosaic of NGC 4258 with WFC3 in F160W to triple its sample of long period Cepheids, WFC3/F160W observations of the 6 ideal SN Ia hosts to triple their samples of Cepheids, and observations of NGC 5584 the host of a new SN Ia, SN 2007af, to discover and measure its Cepheids and begin expanding the small set of SN Ia luminosity calibrations. These observations would provide the bulk of a coordinated program aimed at making the measurement of the Hubble constant one of the leading constraints on dark energy. STIS/CCD/MA2 11568 A SNAPSHOT Survey of the Local Interstellar Medium: New NUV Observations of Stars with Archived FUV Observations We propose to obtain high-resolution STIS E230H SNAP observations of MgII and FeII interstellar absorption lines toward stars within 100 parsecs that already have moderate or high-resolution far- UV (FUV), 900-1700 A, observations available in the MAST Archive. Fundamental properties, such as temperature, turbulence, ionization, abundances, and depletions of gas in the local interstellar medium (LISM) can be measured by coupling such observations. Due to the wide spectral range of STIS, observations to study nearby stars also contain important data about the LISM embedded within their spectra. However, unlocking this information from the intrinsically broad and often saturated FUV absorption lines of low-mass ions, (DI, CII, NI, OI), requires first understanding the kinematic structure of the gas along the line of sight. This can be achieved with high resolution spectra of high-mass ions, (FeII, MgII), which have narrow absorption lines, and can resolve each individual velocity component (interstellar cloud). By obtaining short (~10 minute) E230H observations of FeII and MgII, for stars that already have moderate or high-resolution FUV spectra, we can increase the sample of LISM measurements, and thereby expand our knowledge of the physical properties of the gas in our galactic neighborhood. STIS is the only instrument capable of obtaining the required high resolution data now or in the foreseeable future. STIS/CCD 11567 Boron Abundances in Rapidly Rotating Early-B Stars Models of rotation in early-B stars predict that rotationally driven mixing should deplete surface boron abundances during the main-sequence lifetime of many stars. However, recent work has shown that many boron depleted stars are intrinsically slow rotators for which models predict no depletion should have occurred, while observations of nitrogen in some more rapidly rotating stars show less mixing than the models predict. Boron can provide unique information on the earliest stages of mixing in B stars, but previous surveys have been biased towards narrow-lined stars because of the difficulty in measuring boron abundances in rapidly rotating stars. The two targets observed as part of our Cycle 13 SNAP program 10175, just before STIS failed, demonstrate that it is possible to make useful boron abundance measurements for early-B stars with Vsin(i) above 100 km/s. We propose to extend that survey to a large enough sample of stars to allow statistically significant tests of models of rotational mixing in early-B stars. WFC3/ACS/IR 11563 Galaxies at z~7-10 in the Reionization Epoch: Luminosity Functions to <0.2L* from Deep IR Imaging of the HUDF and HUDF05 Fields The first generations of galaxies were assembled around redshifts z~7-10+, just 500-800 Myr after recombination, in the heart of the reionization of the universe. We know very little about galaxies in this period. Despite great effort with HST and other telescopes, less than ~15 galaxies have been reliably detected so far at z>7, contrasting with the ~1000 galaxies detected to date at z~6, just 200-400 Myr later, near the end of the reionization epoch. WFC3 IR can dramatically change this situation, enabling derivation of the galaxy luminosity function and its shape at z~7-8 to well below L*, measurement of the UV luminosity density at z~7-8 and z~8-9, and estimates of the contribution of galaxies to reionization at these epochs, as well as characterization of their properties (sizes, structure, colors). A quantitative leap in our understanding of early galaxies, and the timescales of their buildup, requires a total sample of ~100 galaxies at z~7-8 to ~29 AB mag. We can achieve this with 192 WFC3 IR orbits on three disjoint fields (minimizing cosmic variance): the HUDF and the two nearby deep fields of the HUDF05. Our program uses three WFC3 IR filters, and leverages over 600 orbits of existing ACS data, to identify, with low contamination, a large sample of over 100 objects at z~7-8, a very useful sample of ~23 at z~8-9, and limits at z~10. By careful placement of the WFC3 IR and parallel ACS pointings, we also enhance the optical ACS imaging on the HUDF and a HUDF05 field. We stress (1) the need to go deep, which is paramount to define L*, the shape, and the slope alpha of the luminosity function (LF) at these high redshifts; and (2) the far superior performance of our strategy, compared with the use of strong lensing clusters, in detecting significant samples of faint z~7-8 galaxies to derive their luminosity function and UV ionizing flux. Our recent z~7.4 NICMOS results show that wide-area IR surveys, even of GOODS-like depth, simply do not reach faint enough at z~7-9 to meet the LF and UV flux objectives. In the spirit of the HDF and the HUDF, we will waive any proprietary period, and will also deliver the reduced data to STScI. The proposed data will provide a Legacy resource of great value for a wide range of archival science investigations of galaxies at redshifts z~2-9. The data are likely to remain the deepest IR/optical images until JWST is launched, and will provide sources for spectroscopic followup by JWST, ALMA and EVLA.
HST NICMOS Survey of the Nuclear Regions of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe
At luminosities above 10^11.4 L_sun, the space density of far-infrared selected galaxies exceeds that of optically selected galaxies. These `luminous infrared galaxies’ (LIRGs) are primarily interacting or merging disk galaxies undergoing enhanced star formation and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) activity, possibly triggered as the objects transform into massive S0 and elliptical merger remnants. We propose NICMOS NIC2 imaging of the nuclear regions of a complete sample of 88 L_IR > 10^11.4 L_sun luminous infrared galaxies in the IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample (RBGS: i.e., 60 micron flux density > 5.24 Jy). This sample is ideal not only in its completeness and sample size, but also in the proximity and brightness of the galaxies. The superb sensitivity and resolution of NICMOS NIC2 on HST enables a unique opportunity to study the detailed structure of the nuclear regions, where dust obscuration may mask star clusters, AGN, and additional nuclei from optical view, with a resolution significantly higher than possible with Spitzer IRAC. This survey thus provides a crucial component to our study of the dynamics and evolution of IR galaxies presently underway with Wide-Field, HST ACS/WFC3, and Spitzer IRAC observations of these 88 galaxies. Imaging will be done with the F160W filter (H-band) to examine as a function of both luminosity and merger stage: (i) the luminosity and distribution of embedded star clusters, (ii) the presence of optically obscured AGN and nuclei, (iii) the correlation between the distribution of 1.6 micron emission and the mid-IR emission as detected by Spitzer IRAC, (iv) the evidence of bars or bridges that may funnel fuel into the nuclear region, and (v) the ages of star clusters for which photometry is available via ACS/WFC3 observations. The NICMOS data, combined with the HST ACS, Spitzer, and GALEX observations of this sample, will result in the most comprehensive study of merging and interacting galaxies to date.
Probing the Early Universe with GRBs
Cosmology is beginning to constrain the nature of the earliest stars and galaxies to form in the Universe, but direct observation of galaxies at z>6 remains highly challenging due to their scarcity, intrinsically small size, and high luminosity distance. GRB afterglows, thanks to their extreme luminosities, offer the possibility of circumventing these normal constraints by providing redshifts and spectral information which couldn’t be obtained through direct observation of the host galaxies themselves. In addition, the association of GRBs with massive stars means that they are an indicator of star formation, and that their hosts are likely responsible for a large proportion of the ionizing radiation during that era. Our collaboration is conducting a campaign to rapidly identify and study candidate very high redshift bursts, bringing to bear a network of 2, 4 and 8m telescopes with near-IR instrumentation. Swift has proven capable of detecting faint, distant GRBs, and reporting accurate positions for many bursts in near real-time. Here we propose to continue our HST program of targeting GRBs at z~6 and above. HST is crucial to this endeavor, allowing us (a) to characterize the basic properties, such as luminosity and color, and in some cases morphologies, of the hosts, which is essential to understanding these primordial galaxies and their relationship to other galaxy populations; and (b) to monitor the late time afterglows and hence compare them to lower-z bursts and test the use of GRBs as standard candles.
The Physical Nature and Age of Lyman Alpha Galaxies
In the simplest scenario, strong Lyman alpha emission from high redshift galaxies would indicate that stellar populations younger than 10 Myrs dominate the UV. This does not, however, constrain the stellar populations older than 100 Myrs, which do not contribute to UV light. Also, the Lyman alpha line can be boosted if the interstellar medium is both clumpy and dusty. Different studies with small samples have reached different conclusions about the presence of dust and old stellar populations in Lyman alpha emitters. We propose HST-NICMOS and Spitzer-IRAC photometry of 35 Lyman-alpha galaxies at redshift 4.5< z<6.5, in order to determine their spectral energy distribution (SED) extending through rest-frame optical. This will allow us to measure accurately (1) The total stellar mass in these objects, including old stars which may have formed at redshifts (z > 8) not easily probed by any other means. (2) The dust extinction in the rest-frame UV, and therefore a correction to their present star-formation rates. Taken together, these two quantities will yield the star-formation histories of Lyman alpha galaxies, which form fully half of the known galaxies at z=4-6. They will tell us whether these are young or old galaxies by straddling the 4000A break. Data from NICMOS is essential for these compact and faint (i=25-26th magnitude AB) high redshift galaxies, which are too faint for good near-IR photometry from the ground.
FLIGHT OPERATIONS SUMMARY:
Significant Spacecraft Anomalies: (The following are preliminary reports of potential non-nominal performance that will be investigated.)
12172 – GSAcq(2,1,1) at 15:04:28, REAca(2,1,1) at 16:32:37 and REAcq(2,1,1) at 18:08:30 failed to RGA control with Search Radius Limit exceeded on FGS.
Observations affected: WFC3 185 – 193; Proposal ID# 11570.
12173 – GSAcq(2,1,1) at 024/21:51:07 and REAcq(2,1,1) at 22:50:03 acquired in fine lock backup on FGS 2.
Observations possibly affected: WFC3 231 – 235, 002; Proposal ID# 11631, 11908.
COMPLETED OPS REQUEST:
18802-0 – Null genslew for proposal 12053 – Slot 1 @ 023/1000z
COMPLETED OPS NOTES: (None)
FGS GSAcq 20 19
FGS REAcq 30 28
OBAD with Maneuver 13 13
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: (None)