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Monstrous Cloud Boomerangs Back to Our Galaxy

The old adage "what goes up must come down" even applies to an immense cloud of hydrogen gas outside our Milky Way galaxy. First discovered in the 1960s, the comet-shaped cloud is 11,000 light-years long and 2,500 light-years across. If the cloud could be seen in visible light, it would span the sky with an apparent diameter 30 times greater than the size of the full moon. The cloud, which is invisible at optical wavelengths, is plummeting toward our galaxy at nearly 700,000 miles per hour. Hubble was used to measure the chemical composition of the cloud as a means of assessing where it came from. Hubble astronomers were surprised to find that the cloud, which is largely composed of hydrogen, also has heavier elements that could only come from stars. This means the cloud came from the star-rich disk of our galaxy. The Smith Cloud is following a ballistic trajectory and will plow back into the Milky Way's disk in about 30 million years. When it does, astronomers believe it will ignite a spectacular burst of star formation, perhaps providing enough gas to make 2 million suns.

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Announcement Notice

NASA and The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are pleased to announce the Cycle 24 Call for Proposals for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Observations and funding for Archival Research and Theoretical Research programs. Participation in this program is open to all categories of organizations, both domestic and foreign, including educational institutions, profit and nonprofit organizations, NASA Centers, and other Government agencies.

Cycle 24 will extend from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. We will accept proposals for the following instruments: ACS, COS, FGS, STIS, and WFC3.

This solicitation for proposals will be open through April 08, 2016 8:00pm EDT. The Astronomer's Proposal Tools (APT), which is required for Phase I Proposal Submission will be made available/released for Cycle 24 Phase I use during the 2nd week of February 2016. Results of the selection will be announced by the end of June 2016.

Please see the Cycle 24 Announcement page for detailed information.

Mid-Cycle Proposals

NASA and Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are pleased to announce a new opportunity to apply for observations with the Hubble Space Telescope. Mid-cycle proposals aim to allow the community to follow up on discoveries made since the Cycle 23 proposal deadline. Participation in this program is open to all categories of organizations, both domestic and foreign, including educational institutions, profit and nonprofit organizations, NASA Centers, and other Government agencies. Proposals are limited to no more than 5 orbits. Full details are given at this link.

HST Frontier Fields

Using Director's Discretionary (DD) observing time, HST is undertaking a revolutionary deep field observing program to peer deeper into the Universe than ever before and provide a first glimpse of JWST's universe. These Frontier Fields will combine the power of HST with the natural gravitational telescopes of high-magnification clusters of galaxies. Using both the Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys in parallel, HST will produce the deepest observations of clusters and their lensed galaxies ever obtained, and the second-deepest observations of blank fields (located near the clusters). These images will reveal distant galaxy populations ~10 - 100 times fainter than any previously observed, improve our statistical understanding of galaxies during the epoch of reionization, and provide unprecedented measurements of the dark matter within massive clusters.

Data releases of the already observed clusters are available at the MAST Frontier Fields website.

The Frontier Fields public lensing models have been released and are available on the MAST Frontier Fields Lensing Model website. This website includes interactive tools for examining the lensing maps and obtaining magnifications and uncertainties from a variety of models, given a position and redshift.

For more information about the survey, please see the Frontier Fields website.

Frontier Fields Lensing Map Call for Proposals

Frontier Fields CP document

We are soliciting gravitational lensing maps for the last four Hubble Frontier Fields clusters (MACSJ0717.5+3745, MACSJ1149.5+2223, AbellS1063, and Abell 370) based upon the exceptionally deep HST FF imaging and other new ancillary data. Previously unsupported teams may also apply to create gravitational lensing maps for Hubble Frontier Fields clusters Abell 2744 and MACSJ0416.1- 2403 if those teams provide a substantially different model set from existing models.

For the full set of proposal instructions and requirements, see the FY16 Frontier Fields Lensing Map Call for Proposals. All proposals are due 5:00PM EST, February 4, 2016. Proposals may be submitted electronically to Cheryl Schmidt in the STScI HST Mission Office. Questions about this request for proposals or the HST Frontier Fields should be sent to Dr. Helmut Jenkner.

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