Status Report

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #5019

By SpaceRef Editor
January 26, 2010
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Continuing to Collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: 5am January 25 – 5am January 26, 2010 (DOY 025/10:00z-026/10:00z)


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.

COS/FUV 11895

FUV Detector Dark Monitor

The purpose of this proposal is to monitor the FUV detector dark rate by taking long science exposures without illuminating the detector. The detector dark rate and spatial distribution of counts will be compared to pre-launch and SMOV data in order to verify the nominal operation of the detector. Variations of count rate as a function of orbital position will be analyzed to find dependence of dark rate on proximity to the SAA. Dependence of dark rate as function of time will also be tracked.

COS/NUV 11894

NUV Detector Dark Monitor

The purpose of this proposal is to measure the NUV detector dark rate by taking long science exposures with no light on the detector. The detector dark rate and spatial distribution of counts will be compared to pre-launch and SMOV data in order to verify the nominal operation of the detector. Variations of count rate as a function of orbital position will be analyzed to find dependence of dark rate on proximity to the SAA. Dependence of dark rate as function of time will also be tracked.

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 11849

STIS CCD Hot Pixel Annealing

This purpose of this activity is to repair radiation induced hot pixel damage to the STIS CCD by warming the CCD to the ambient instrument temperature and annealing radiation-damaged pixels.

Radiation damage creates hot pixels in the STIS CCD Detector. Many of these hot pixels can be repaired by warming the CCD from its normal operating temperature near -83 deg. C to the ambient instrument temperature (~ +5 deg. C) for several hours. The number of hot pixels repaired is a function of annealing temperature. The effectiveness of the CCD hot pixel annealing process is assessed by measuring the dark current behavior before and after annealing and by searching for any window contamination effects.

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.

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 11189

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.

WFC3/UVIS 11583

The Star Formation Rate In Nearby Elliptical Galaxies

Small amounts of star formation in normal elliptical galaxies are suggested by several results: some surprisingly young ages from optical line-index dating; cooling X-ray gas; and mid-IR dust emission. Previously, it was difficult to detect low levels of star formation, but UV imaging with WFPC3 will permit us to conclusively identify individual O/B stars in nearby normal ellipticals by their UV colors and magnitudes. This technique is orders of magnitude more sensitive than previous methods, allowing detections of star formation to levels of 1E-4 Msolar/yr. Proof of concept is provided by a very long UV ACS observation of M87 that revealed many O/B stars. We propose observations of four normal ellipticals where recent star formation is likely. This will yield their star formation rates and the locations of such activity.

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).


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

HSTARS: (None)



FGS GSAcq 5 5
FGS REAcq 10 10
OBAD with Maneuver 5 5


SpaceRef staff editor.