This week on HST

HST Programs: July 25, 2010 - July 31, 2010

Program Number Principal Investigator Program Title
11548 S. Thomas Megeath, University of Toledo NICMOS Imaging of Protostars in the Orion A Cloud: The Role of Environment in Star Formation
11554 Nate Bastian, University of Exeter Luminosity Profiles of Extremely Massive Clusters in NGC 7252
11588 Raphael Gavazzi, CNRS, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris Galaxy-Scale Strong Lenses from the CFHTLS survey
11592 Nicolas Lehner, University of Notre Dame Testing the Origin{s} of the Highly Ionized High-Velocity Clouds: A Survey of Galactic Halo Stars at z>3 kpc
11593 Michael C. Liu, University of Hawaii Dynamical Masses of the Coolest Brown Dwarfs
11598 Jason Tumlinson, Space Telescope Science Institute How Galaxies Acquire their Gas: A Map of Multiphase Accretion and Feedback in Gaseous Galaxy Halos
11644 Michael E Brown, California Institute of Technology A dynamical-compositional survey of the Kuiper belt: a new window into the formation of the outer solar system
11670 Peter Garnavich, University of Notre Dame The Host Environments of Type Ia Supernovae in the SDSS Survey
11675 Justyn R. Maund, University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Institute Stellar Forensics: A post-explosion view of the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae
11677 Harvey B. Richer, University of British Columbia Is 47 Tuc Young? Measuring its White Dwarf Cooling Age and Completing a Hubble Legacy
11691 Paul Goudfrooij, Space Telescope Science Institute Using Massive Star Clusters in Merger Remnants To Provide Reference Colors of Intermediate-Age Stellar Populations
11692 J. Christopher Howk, University of Notre Dame The LMC as a QSO Absorption Line System
11696 Matthew A. Malkan, University of California - Los Angeles Infrared Survey of Star Formation Across Cosmic Time
11700 Michele Trenti, University of Colorado at Boulder Bright Galaxies at z>7.5 with a WFC3 Pure Parallel Survey
11707 Kailash Sahu, Space Telescope Science Institute Detecting Isolated Black Holes through Astrometric Microlensing
11709 David Bersier, Liverpool John Moores University Stretching the diversity of cosmic explosions: The supernovae of gamma-ray bursts
11721 Richard S. Ellis, California Institute of Technology Verifying the Utility of Type Ia Supernovae as Cosmological Probes: Evolution and Dispersion in the Ultraviolet Spectra
11728 Timothy M. Heckman, The Johns Hopkins University The Impact of Starbursts on the Gaseous Halos of Galaxies
11741 Todd Tripp, University of Massachusetts Probing Warm-Hot Intergalactic Gas at 0.5 < z < 1.3 with a Blind Survey for O VI, Ne VIII, Mg X, and Si XII Absorption Systems
12018 Andrea H. Prestwich, Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory Ultra-Luminous x-Ray Sources in the Most Metal-Poor Galaxies
12055 Julianne Dalcanton, University of Washington A Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury - I
12085 Cristina Oliveira, Space Telescope Science Institute STIS/E230M observations of HD6655 for calibration of COS/G230L

Selected highlights

GO 11593: Dynamical Masses of the Coolest Brown Dwarfs

Epsilon Indi Bab, the binary brown dwarf companion of the nearby K dwarf Brown dwarfs are objects that form like stars, but lack sufficient mass to drive the central temperature above a few million degrees, and therefore never succeed in igniting core hydrogen fusion. Discovered almost 15 years ago, these objects initialy have surface temperatures of ~3,500K, but cool rapidly and move through spcetral types M, L and T. Following their discovery, considerable theoretical attention has focused on the evolution of their intrinsic properties, particularly the details of the atmospheric changes in the evolution from type L to type T and beyond. This transition marks the emergence of methane as a dominant absorber at near-infrared wavelengths. Current models suggest this transition occurs at ~1400-1200K, and that the spectral changes are at least correlated with, and perhaps driven by, the distribution and properties of dust layers ("clouds"). The overall timescales associated with this process remains unclear. Mass is a crucial factor in mapping those changes, but mass is also the most difficult quantity to measure in a reliable fashion. The present proposal aims to tackle this issue through astrometry of ultracool binary systems, deriving the orbits and hence dynamical masses. Initially designed for ACS, the current observations are being made with WFPC2, and the binary system SDSSJ092615.38+584720.9 will be imaged in the coming week.

GO 11677: Is 47 Tuc Young? Measuring its White Dwarf Cooling Age and Completing a Hubble Legacy

Hubble image of the globular cluster, 47 Tucanae Globular clusters are members of the Galactic halo population, which formed during the first extensive period of star formation in the Milky Way. As such, the properties of the 106 to 107 stellar constituents can provide crucial insight into the earliest stages of galaxy formation. Hubble has conducted a significant number of observing programs targeting these systems, with the majority designed to obtain moderately deep, multicolour imaging data of a range of clusters. Those programs probw evolved stars, on the red giant and horizotal branch, and generally extend no more than a few magnitudes below the main-sequence turnoff. A few clusters, however, have been studied in detail - specifically, the two nearest clusters, NGC 6397, an extremely metal-poor cluster, and M4, a moderately metal-rich systems; Omega Centauri, one of the most massive clusters, perhaps even the remnant core of a dwarf galaxy; and 47 Tucanae, one of the higher metallicity systems, lying in the foreground of the Small Magellanic Cloud. Deep imaging of NGC 6397 and M4 has succeeded in clear detecion of the white dwarf cooling sequence in those clusters, and those data have been used to derive age estimates. The present observation aims to obtain similar data for 47 Tucanae, permitting an estimate of the relative age of these three, disparate clusters.

GO 11696: Infrared Survey of Star Formation Across Cosmic Time

A region of massive star formation Star formation is the key astrophysical process in determining the overall evolution of galactic systems, the generation of heavy elements, and the overall enrichment of interstellar and intergalactic material. Tracing the overall evolution through a wide redshift range is crucial to understanding how gas and stars evolved to form the galaxies that we see around us now. The present program builds on the ability of HST to carry out parallel observations, using more than one instrument. While the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph is focused on obtaining ultraviolet spectra of unparalleled signal-to-noise, this program uses the near-infrared grisms mounted on the Wide-Field Camera 3 infrared channel to obtain low resolution spectra between 1 and 1.6 microns of randomly-selected nearby fields. The goal is to search for emission lines characteristic of star-forming regions. In particular, these observations are capable of detecting Lyman-alpha emission generated by star formation at redshfits z > 5.6. A total of up to 40 "deep" (4-5 orbit) and 20 "shallow" (2-3 orbit) fields will be targeted in the course of this observing campaign.

GO 11707: Detecting Isolated Black Holes through Astrometric Microlensing

A rather spectacular version of black hole lensing. Gravitational lensing is a consequence of general relativity. Its effects were originally quantified by Einstein himself in the mid-1920s. In the 1930s, Fritz Zwicky suggested that galaxies could serve as lenses, but lower mass objects can also also lens background sources. Bohdan Paczynski pointed out in the mid-1980s that this offered a means of detecting dark, compact objects that might contribute to the dark-matter halo. Paczcynski's suggestion prompted the inception of several large-scale lensing surveys, notably MACHO, OGLE, EROS and DUO. Those wide-field imaging surveys have target high density starfields towards the Magellanic Clouds and the Galactic Bulge, and have succeeded in identifying numerous lensing events. The duration of each event depends on several factors, including the tangential motion of the lens and its mass. Long-term events are generally associated with a massive lens. Duration alone is not sufficient to identify a lens as a black hole - a source with very low tangential motion relative to the Sun can produce the same effect. However, microlensing not only leads to flux amplification, but also to small astrometric motions, caused by the appearance and disappearance of features in the lensed light. Those motions serve as a mass discriminant - higher mass lenses produce larger amplitude motions. The expected astrometric signal from a black hole lens is > 1.4 millarcseconds, just measureable with HST. This program aims to capitalise on this fact by searching for lensing by black holes in the Galactic field. The observations target long-duration lensing events in the Galactic Bulge.

Past weeks:
page by Neill Reid, updated 19/2/2010