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Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun and have come up nearly dry. The planets spectroscopically surveyed have only one-tenth to one one-thousandth the amount of water predicted by standard planet-formation theories. The planets are not habitable because they are gaseous and are as big as Jupiter. They lie so much closer to their host star than Jupiter is to our Sun, so their atmospheres are seething between 1,500 and 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, this result suggests that some percentage of Earth-size exoplanets may be more deficient in water than predicted. And, water is a necessary prerequisite for life as we know it. The search for water-bearing terrestrial worlds may be more challenging than thought for future space telescopes. And, scientists may have to revisit their theories of planet formation.

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Cycle 22 Call for Proposals

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute released the Cycle 22 Call for Proposals for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Observations and funding for Archival Research and Theoretical Research programs on January 6, 2014. 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. This solicitation for proposals will be open through April 11, 2014 8:00pm EDT.

The Astronomer's Proposal Tool (APT), which is required for Phase I proposal submission, was released for Cycle 22 Phase I use on February 12. Proposal selection results will be announced by the end of June 2014. For more information please see the Cycle 22 Announcement Page.

Science With the Hubble Space Telescope IV

The conference on "Science With the Hubble Space Telescope IV: Looking to the Future" will be held at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, Italy, on March 17-20, 2014. This conference is designed to highlight the scientific breakthroughs made by HST in its two decade life. For more information please see the conference web page.

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.

Observations for the first epoch of Abell 2744 have been completed in October through December 2013, and for the first epoch of MACSJ0416.1-2403 in January and February 2014.  For data releases, please see 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.

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The ETCs are web-based applications that assist Hubble users in preparing Phase I and Phase II observing proposals. The ETCs calculate exposure times or SNRs for simulated astronomical observations using any of HST's primary instruments:

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