NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4356

Status Report From: Space Telescope Science Institute
Posted: Monday, May 7, 2007


Notice: For the foreseeable future, the daily reports may contain apparent discrepancies between some proposal descriptions and the listed instrument usage. This is due to the conversion of previously approved ACS WFC or HRC observations into WFPC2, or NICMOS observations subsequent to the loss of ACS CCD science capability in late January.


- Continuing to collect World Class Science

PERIOD COVERED: UT May 04,05,06, 2007 (DOY 124,125,126)


NIC1/NIC2/NIC3 8794

NICMOS Post-SAA calibration - CR Persistence Part 5

A new procedure proposed to alleviate the CR-persistence problem of NICMOS. Dark frames will be obtained immediately upon exiting the SAA contour 23, and every time a NICMOS exposure is scheduled within 50 minutes of coming out of the SAA. The darks will be obtained in parallel in all three NICMOS Cameras. The POST-SAA darks will be non- standard reference files available to users with a USEAFTER date/time mark. The keyword 'USEAFTER=date/time' will also be added to the header of each POST-SAA DARK frame. The keyword must be populated with the time, in addition to the date, because HST crosses the SAA ~8 times per day so each POST-SAA DARK will need to have the appropriate time specified, for users to identify the ones they need. Both the raw and processed images will be archived as POST-SAA DARKSs. Generally we expect that all NICMOS science/calibration observations started within 50 minutes of leaving an SAA will need such maps to remove the CR persistence from the science images. Each observation will need its own CRMAP, as different SAA passages leave different imprints on the NICMOS detectors.

NIC3 11080

Exploring the Scaling Laws of Star Formation

As a variety of surveys of the local and distant Universe are approaching a full census of galaxy populations, our attention needs to turn towards understanding and quantifying the physical mechanisms that trigger and regulate the large-scale star formation rates {SFRs} in galaxies.

ACS/SBC 11056

Improved Sensitivity SBC Prisms

The flux calibration of the SBC {PR110L and PR130L} will be improved by observing for each prism white dwarf standards {WD1657+343 and LTT9491}. The blue standard star WD1657+343 has previously been observed with ACS/SBC and will serve as a reference point to track time dependent variations. LTT9491 is much redder and thus will be used to investigate the sensitivity curve of ?red? targets to check for a potential red leak of the SBC. Additionally, LTT9491 shows various strong absorption lines which can be used to confirm the wavelength calibration of the PR110L and PR130L prisms. The standard stars are observed at a variety of pointings across the SBC detector in order to map spatial variations. LTT9491 will also be observed with ACS/HRC PR200L to obtain an improved flux calibration from about 1800 A to 4000 A.

WFPC2 11029

WFPC2 CYCLE 15 Intflat Linearity Check and Filter Rotation Anomaly Monitor

Intflat observations will be taken to provide a linearity check: the linearity test consists of a series of intflats in F555W, in each gain and each shutter. A combination of intflats, visflats, and earthflats will be used to check the repeatability of filter wheel motions. {Intflat sequences tied to decons, visits 1-18 in prop 10363, have been moved to the cycle 15 decon proposal xxxx for easier scheduling.} Note: long-exposure WFPC2 intflats must be scheduled during ACS anneals to prevent stray light from the WFPC2 lamps from contaminating long ACS external exposures.


Star formation in extended UV disk {XUV-disk} galaxies

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer {GALEX} has discovered the existence of extended UV-disk {XUV-disk} galaxies. This class of intriguing spiral galaxies is distinguished by UV-bright regions of star formation located at extreme galactocentric radii, commonly reaching many times the optical extent of each target. XUV-disks represent a population of late-type galaxies still actively building, or significantly augmenting, their stellar disk in the outer, low-density environment. Prior to GALEX, such regions were considered to be far more stable against star formation than now realized. Our work on these targets has led to the recognition of the XUV phenomenon as probing a diverse population of galaxies which, although having certain commonality in terms of their present XUV star formation, have apparently experienced different star formation histories {as judged by their outer disk UV- optical colors and morphology}. In ordinary spirals, disk formation occurred at a much earlier epoch, making today's XUV-disks useful templates for commonplace, high z galaxies. The diverse XUV-disks in our sample may represent snapshots of different phases in the disk building process. We seek to characterize the demographics of star forming regions occupying this environmental range, especially in contrast to their inner disk counterparts. HST imaging is needed to accurately characterize the massive stars and clusters which have, in fact, managed to form. The GALEX observations are limited by 5" resolution. Deep ACS FUV, B, V, I, and H-alpha imaging {along with parallel WFPC2 data} will allow: {1} photometric classification of the OB star population, {2} constraint on the cluster mass function and age distribution, {3} critical accounting for possible leakage of Lyman continuum photons in a porous ISM or an IMF change, and {4} population synthesis modeling of the field SFH on Gyr timescales. We benefit from extensive archival HST observations of our target galaxies, although the outer disk has yet to be probed.

WFPC2 10890

Morphologies of the Most Extreme High-Redshift Mid-IR-Luminous Galaxies

The formative phase of the most massive galaxies may be extremely luminous, characterized by intense star- and AGN-formation. Till now, few such galaxies have been unambiguously identified at high redshift, restricting us to the study of low-redshift ultraluminous infrared galaxies as possible analogs. We have recently discovered a sample of objects which may indeed represent this early phase in galaxy formation, and are undertaking an extensive multiwavelength study of this population. These objects are bright at mid-IR wavelengths {F[24um]>0.8mJy}, but deep ground based imaging suggests extremely faint {and in some cases extended} optical counterparts {R~24-27}. Deep K-band images show barely resolved galaxies. Mid-infrared spectroscopy with Spitzer/IRS reveals that they have redshifts z ~ 2-2.5, suggesting bolometric luminosities ~10^{13-14}Lsun! We propose to obtain deep ACS F814W and NIC2 F160W images of these sources and their environs in order to determine kpc-scale morphologies and surface photometry for these galaxies. The proposed observations will help us determine whether these extreme objects are merging systems, massive obscured starbursts {with obscuration on kpc scales!} or very reddened {locally obscured} AGN hosted by intrinsically low-luminosity galaxies.

WFPC2 10880

The host galaxies of QSO2s: AGN feeding and evolution at high luminosities

Now that the presence of supermassive black holes in the nuclei of galaxies is a well established fact, other questions related to the AGN phenomena still have to be answered. Problems of particular interest are how the AGN gets fed, how the black hole evolves and how the evolution of the black hole is related to the evolution of the galaxy bulge. Here we propose to address some of these issues using ACS/WFC + F775W snapshot images of 73 QSO2s with redshifts in the range 0.3

WFPC2 10877

A Snapshot Survey of the Sites of Recent, Nearby Supernovae

During the past few years, robotic {or nearly robotic} searches for supernovae {SNe}, most notably our Lick Observatory Supernova Search {LOSS}, have found hundreds of SNe, many of them in quite nearby galaxies {cz < 4000 km/s}. Most of the objects were discovered before maximum brightness, and have follow-up photometry and spectroscopy; they include some of the best-studied SNe to date. We propose to conduct a snapshot imaging survey of the sites of some of these nearby objects, to obtain late-time photometry that {through the shape of the light and color curves} will help reveal the origin of their lingering energy. The images will also provide high-resolution information on the local environments of SNe that are far superior to what we can procure from the ground. For example, we will obtain color-color and color-magnitude diagrams of stars in these SN sites, to determine the SN progenitor masses and constraints on the reddening. Recovery of the SNe in the new HST images will also allow us to actually pinpoint their progenitor stars in cases where pre- explosion images exist in the HST archive. This proposal is an extension of our successful Cycle 13 snapshot survey with ACS. It is complementary to our Cycle 15 archival proposal, which is a continuation of our long-standing program to use existing HST images to glean information about SN environments.

NIC2 10858

NICMOS Imaging of the z ~ 2 Spitzer Spectroscopic Sample of Ultraluminous Infrared

We propose to obtain NICMOS images of the first large sample of high-z ultra-luminous infrared galaxies {ULIRGs} whose redshifts and physical states have been determined with Spitzer mid-IR spectra. The detection of strong silicate absorption and/or PAH emission lines suggest that the these sources are a mixture of highly obscured starbursts, AGNs and composite systems at z=2. Although some of the spectra show PAH emission similar to local starburst ULIRGs, their bolometric luminosities are roughly an order of magnitude higher. One important question is if major mergers, which are the trigger for 95% of local ULIRGs, also drive this enormous energy output observed in our z=2 sample. The NICMOS images will allow us to {1} measure surface brightness profiles of z~2 ULIRGs and establish if major mergers could be common among our luminous sources at these early epochs, {2} determine if starbursts and AGNs classified based on their mid-IR spetra would have different morphological signatures, thus different dynamic state; {3} make comparisons with the similar studies of ULIRGs at z ~ 0 - 1, thus infer any evolutionary connections between high-z ULIRGs and the formation of normal, massive galaxies and quasars observed today.

WFPC2 10845


We propose deep WFPC2 and NICMOS observations to search for optical companions to binary millisecond pulsar {MSPs} in two Globular Clusters {GCs}: Terzan 5 and NGC6266. Terzan 5 has the largest MSP population of any GC: 33 MSP {17 in binary systems} have been discovered up to now in this stellar system. NGC6266 ranks fifth among the GC for wealth of MSPs but it is the only one in which all the {six} detected MSPs are in binary systems. Only 5 optical counterparts to binary MSP companions are known in GCs {two of them have been discovered by our group}: hence even the addition of a few new identifications are crucial to investigate the variety of processes occurring in binary MSPs in dense environment. The observations proposed here would easily double/triple the existing sample of known MSP companions, allowing the first meaningful study of the phenomena which drive the formation and evolution of these exotic systems. Moreover, since most of binary MSP in GC are formed via stellar interactions in the high density regions of the cluster, the determination of the nature of the companion and the incidence of this collisionally induced population have a significant impact on our knowledge of the cluster dynamics. Even more interesting, the study of the optical companions to NSs in a GC allows to derive tighter constraints {than those obtainable for NS binaries in the galactic field} on the properties {mass, orbital inclination and so on} of the compation star. This has, in turn, an intrisic importance for fundamental physics since it offers the opportunity of measuring the mass of the NS and hence to put constraints to the equation of state of matter at nuclear equilibrium density.

NIC3 10836

The Red Sequence at 1.3 < z < 1.4 in Galaxy Clusters

We propose to obtain NIC3/F160W imaging of three new IRAC-selected galaxy clusters at 1.3 < z < 1.5. In combination with deep ACS/F850LP images being obtained in Cycle 14, the resulting precision photometry in a rest ~U - R color will allow us to construct color- magnitude diagrams which can be used to measure the slope and scatter in the red sequence galaxies, thereby constraining the history of star formation in the early-type galaxies. The number of morphologically-selected early-type galaxies more luminous than L* will allow us to test the predictions of the hierarchical merging scenario for galaxy formation in clusters at the highest available redshifts in galaxy clusters.

WFPC2 10815

The Blue Hook Populations of Massive Globular Clusters

Blue hook stars are a class of hot {~35,000 K} subluminous horizontal branch stars that have been recently discovered using HST ultraviolet images of the globular clusters omega Cen and NGC 2808. These stars occupy a region of the HR diagram that is unexplained by canonical stellar evolution theory. Using new theoretical evolutionary and atmospheric models, we have shown that the blue hook stars are very likely the progeny of stars that undergo extensive internal mixing during a late helium core flash on the white dwarf cooling curve. This "flash mixing" produces an enormous enhancement of the surface helium and carbon abundances, which suppresses the flux in the far ultraviolet. Although flash mixing is more likely to occur in stars that are born with high helium abundances, a high helium abundance, by itself, does not explain the presence of a blue hook population - flash mixing of the envelope is required. We propose ACS ultraviolet {SBC/F150LP} observations of the five additional globular clusters for which the presence of blue hook stars is suspected from longer wavelength observations. Like omega Cen and NGC 2808, these five targets are also among the most massive globular clusters, because less massive clusters show no evidence for blue hook stars. Because our targets span 1.5 dex in metallicity, we will be able to test our prediction that flash-mixing should be less drastic in metal-rich blue hook stars. In addition, our observations will test the hypothesis that blue hook stars only form in globular clusters massive enough to retain the helium-enriched ejecta from the first stellar generation. If this hypothesis is correct, then our observations will yield important constraints on the chemical evolution and early formation history in globular clusters, as well as the role of helium self-enrichment in producing blue horizontal branch morphologies and multiple main sequence turnoffs. Finally, our observations will provide new insight into the formation of the hottest horizontal branch stars, with implications for the origin of the hot helium-rich subdwarfs in the Galactic field.

NIC2 10798

Dark Halos and Substructure from Arcs & Einstein Rings

The surface brightness distribution of extended gravitationally lensed arcs and Einstein rings contains super-resolved information about the lensed object, and, more excitingly, about the smooth and clumpy mass distribution of the lens galaxies. The source and lens information can non-parametrically be separated, resulting in a direct "gravitational image" of the inner mass-distribution of cosmologically-distant galaxies {Koopmans 2005; Koopmans et al. 2006 [astro-ph/0601628]}. With this goal in mind, we propose deep HST ACS-F555W/F814W and NICMOS-F160W WFC imaging of 20 new gravitational-lens systems with spatially resolved lensed sources, of the 35 new lens systems discovered by the Sloan Lens ACS Survey {Bolton et al. 2005} so far, 15 of which are being imaged in Cycle-14. Each system has been selected from the SDSS and confirmed in two time- efficient HST-ACS snapshot programs {cycle 13&14}. High-fidelity multi-color HST images are required {not delivered by the 420s snapshots} to isolate these lensed images {properly cleaned, dithered and extinction-corrected} from the lens galaxy surface brightness distribution, and apply our "gravitational maging" technique. Our sample of 35 early-type lens galaxies to date is by far the largest, still growing, and most uniformly selected. This minimizes selection biases and small-number statistics, compared to smaller, often serendipitously discovered, samples. Moreover, using the WFC provides information on the field around the lens, higher S/N and a better understood PSF, compared with the HRC, and one retains high spatial resolution through drizzling. The sample of galaxy mass distributions - determined through this method from the arcs and Einstein ring HST images - will be studied to: {i} measure the smooth mass distribution of the lens galaxies {dark and luminous mass are separated using the HST images and the stellar M/L values derived from a joint stellar-dynamical analysis of each system}; {ii} quantify statistically and individually the incidence of mass-substructure {with or without obvious luminous counter- parts such as dwarf galaxies}. Since dark-matter substructure could be more prevalent at higher redshift, both results provide a direct test of this prediction of the CDM hierarchical structure-formation model.

WFPC2 10786

Rotational state and composition of Pluto's outer satellites

We propose an intricate set of observations aimed at discovering the rotational state of the newly discovered satellites of Pluto, S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2. These observations will indicate if the satellites are in synchronous rotation or not. If they are not, then the observations will determine the rotational period or provide tight constraints on the amplitude. The other primary goal is to extend the wavelength coverage of the colors of the surface and allow us to constrain the surface compositions of both objects. From these data we will also be able to significantly improve the orbits of P1 and P2, improve the measurement of the bulk density of Charon, and search for albedo changes on the surface of Pluto.


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


10800 - GSAcq(1,2,1) failed to RGA Hold (Gyro Control) GSACQ(1,2,2) at 126/05:37:26 failed to RGA control with QF1STOPF and QSTOP flags set.

Subsequent REacq(1,2,1) scheduled at 125/17:22:30 using same star id failed to RGA Hold due to search radius limit exceeded on FGS1. 10801 - GSACQ(1,2,2) failed

GSACQ(1,2,2) at 126/05:37:26 failed to RGA control with QF1STOPF and QSTOP flags set.


                       SCHEDULED       SUCCESSFUL 
FGS GSacq               20                   18 
FGS REacq               22                   21 
OBAD with Maneuver      84                   84 


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