This week on HST

HST Programs: January 7 - January 13, 2008

Program Number Principal Investigator Program Title Links
10874 Wei Zheng, The Johns Hopkins University Search for Extremely Faint z>7 Galaxy Population with Cosmic Lenses Abstract
10877 Weidong Li, University of California - Berkeley A Snapshot Survey of the Sites of Recent, Nearby Supernovae Abstract
10890 Arjun Dey, National Optical Astronomy Observatories Morphologies of the Most Extreme High-Redshift Mid-IR-Luminous Galaxies Abstract
10924 Alice Shapley, Princeton University Constraints on the Assembly and Dynamical Masses of z~2 Galaxies Abstract
11011 C. S. Kochanek, The Ohio State University Research Foundation Dissecting An Accretion Disk Abstract
11012 Timothy Paul Roberts, University of Durham NGC 4190-ULX1: The forgotten ULX Abstract
11082 Christopher Conselice, Univ. of Nottingham NICMOS Imaging of GOODS: Probing the Evolution of the Earliest Massive Galaxies, Galaxies Beyond Reionization, and the High Redshift Obscured Universe Abstract
11104 Avishay Gal-Yam, California Institute of Technology The nature of radio transients Abstract
11107 Timothy M. Heckman, The Johns Hopkins University Imaging of Local Lyman Break Galaxy Analogs: New Clues to Galaxy Formation in the Early Universe Abstract
11127 Andrea De Luca, CNR, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale Mapping the nebula surrounding the enigmatic X-ray source at the center of the Vela Jr SNR Abstract
11142 Lin Yan, California Institute of Technology Revealing the Physical Nature of Infrared Luminous Galaxies at 0.3 Abstract
11144 Richard Bouwens, University of California, Santa Cruz Building on the Significant NICMOS Investment in GOODS: A Bright, Wide-Area Search for z>=7 Galaxies Abstract
11178 William M. Grundy, Lowell Observatory Probing Solar System History with Orbits, Masses, and Colors of Transneptunian Binaries Abstract
11183 Crystal Martin, University of California - Santa Barbara Ultraviolet Imaging of Lyman-Alpha-Selected Galaxies at High Redshift Abstract
11195 Arjun Dey, National Optical Astronomy Observatories Morphologies of the Most Extreme High-Redshift Mid-IR-luminous Galaxies II: The `Bump' Sources Abstract
11196 Aaron S. Evans, State University of New York at Stony Brook An Ultraviolet Survey of Luminous Infrared Galaxies in the Local Universe Abstract
11211 George Fritz Benedict, University of Texas at Austin An Astrometric Calibration of Population II Distance Indicators Abstract
11212 Douglas R. Gies, Georgia State University Research Foundation Filling the Period Gap for Massive Binaries Abstract
11213 Gerard T. van Belle, California Institute of Technology Distances to Eclipsing M Dwarf Binaries Abstract
11217 Howard E. Bond, Space Telescope Science Institute The Light Echoes around V838 Monocerotis Abstract
11219 Alessandro Capetti, Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino Active Galactic Nuclei in nearby galaxies: a new view of the origin of the radio-loud radio-quiet dichotomy? Abstract
11225 C. S. Kochanek, The Ohio State University Research Foundation The Wavelength Dependence of Accretion Disk Structure Abstract
11289 Jean-Paul Kneib, Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale SL2S: The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey Abstract
11295 Howard E. Bond, Space Telescope Science Institute Trigonometric Calibration of the Distance Scale for Classical Novae Abstract
11339 Andreas Zezas, Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory A deep observation of NGC4261: understanding its unique X-ray source population, gas morphology, and jet properties Abstract

Some selected highlights

GO 10877: A Snapshot Survey of the Sites of Recent, Nearby Supernovae

A recent supernova in M100 Supernovae mark the (spectacular) evolutionary endpoint for a subset of stellar systems. Standard models predict that they originate from massive stars and (probably) close binaries with a compact (WD, neutron star) component, but there are still some questions remaining over whether we fully understand the range of possible progenitors. The last decade has seen the development of a number of large-scale programs, usually using moderate-sized telescopes, that are dedicated to monitoring (relatively nearby galaxies, searching for new supernovae. This program obtains follow-up images of recent supernovae, concentrating on systems within 20 Mpc of the Milky Way. The observations are taken well after maximum, with the aim of using the high spatial resolution of WFPC2 to identify the fading remnant and perhaps determine its origin.

GO 11178: Probing Solar System History with Orbits, Masses, and Colors of Transneptunian Binaries

Preliminary orbital determination for the KBO WW31, based on C. Veillet's analysis of CFHT observations; the linked image shows the improved orbital derivation, following the addition of HST imaging The Kuiper Belt consists of icy planetoids that orbit the Sun within a broad band stretching from Neptune's orbit (~30 AU) to distance sof ~50 AU from the Sun (see David Jewitt's Kuiper Belt page for details). Over 500 KBOs (or trans-Neptunian objects, TNOs) are currently known out of a population of perhaps 70,000 objects with diameters exceeding 100 km. Approximately 2% of the known KBOs are binary (including Pluto, one of the largest known KBOs, regardless of whether one considers it a planet or not). This is a surprisingly high fraction, given the difficulties involved in forming such systems and the relative ease with which they can be disrupted. It remains unclear whether these systems formed from single KBOs (through collisions or 3-body interactions) as the Kuiper Belt and the Solar System have evolved, or whether they represent the final tail of an initial (much larger) population of primordial binaries. These issues can be addressed, at least in part, through deriving a better understanding of the composition of KBOs - and those properties can be deduced by measuring the orbital parameters for binary systems. The present proposal will use the Planetary camera on WFPC2 to determine the relative orbits for several known KBO binaries. Just as with binary stars, the orbital period and semi-major axis give the total system mass, while the mid-infrared properties (measured by Spitzer) allow an assessment of the surface area/diameters; combining these measurements gives an estimate of the mean density.

GO 11211: An Astrometric Calibration of Population II Distance Indicators

Measuring trigonometric parallax Trigonometric parallax measurement remains the fundamental method of determining distances to astronomical objects. The best ground-based parallax measurements can achieve accuracies of ~1 milliarcsecond, comparable with the typical accuracies achieved by the ESA Hipparcos astrometric satellite. This level of accuracy allows us to obtain reliable distances and luminosities for main sequence stars, subgiants, red giants and even a number of metal poor subdwarfs. However, with an effective distance limit of 100-150 parsecs, the sampling volume includes less than a handful of rarer, shorter-lived celestial objects. In particular, there are no RR Lyraes or Cepheids, two of the principal calibrators in the extragalactic distance scale. There is only one instrument currently available that can achieve astrometry of higher accuracy - the Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) on HST. The present team used the FGS to measure a parallax of 3.82+/10.2 milliarseconds for RR Lyrae, the nearest star of its type. this corresponds toa distance of 262 parsecs. The present program aims to improve the calibration by extending observations to four more relatively nearby RR Lyraes (XZ Cyg, UV Oct, RZ Cep and SU Dra) and two Pop II Cepheids (Kappa Pav and VY Pyx).

GO 11213: Distances to Eclipsing M Dwarf Binaries

Artist's impression of a cool binary system Eclipsing binaries are stellar systems where the orbital plane lies in the line of sight, leading to the components undergoing mutual eclipses. These systems are extremely powerful probes of stellar properties, since (given the appropriate radial velocity measurements) they permit direct measurement of both stellar masses and radii. Accurate distances can also be derived from these systems. These results are particularly interesting for stars near the bottom of the main sequence, approaching the hydrogen buyrning limit. The present program aims to use the Fine Guidance Sensors on HST to determine sub-milliarcsecond trigonometric parallaxes for five M-dwarf binaries: YY Gem, GU Boo, CM Dra, NSVS0103 and TRES-HER0-R

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page by Neill Reid, updated 24/12/2007