This week on HST

HST Programs: July 2 - July 8, 2007

Program Number Principal Investigator Program Title Links
10583 Chris Stubbs, Harvard University Resolving the LMC Microlensing Puzzle: Where Are the Lensing Objects ? Abstract
10760 Michael Garcia, Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory Black Hole X-ray Novae in M31 Abstract
10787 Jane Charlton, The Pennsylvania State University Modes of Star Formation and Nuclear Activity in an Early Universe Laboratory Abstract
10837 Toshiya Ueta, USRA SOFIA Office/NASA Ames Research Center Establishing the Nature of a Mysterious Evolved Star, HD179821 Abstract
10841 Rupali Chandar, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington A Proper Motion Search for Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Globular Clusters (2nd Epoch Observations) Abstract
10872 Harry Teplitz, California Institute of Technology Lyman Continuum Emission in Galaxies at z=1.2 Abstract
11079 Luciana Bianchi, The Johns Hopkins University Treasury Imaging of Star Forming Regions in the Local Group: Complementing the GALEX and NOAO Surveys Abstract
11101 Gabriela Canalizo, University of California - Riverside The Relevance of Mergers for Fueling AGNs: Answers from QSO Host Galaxies Abstract
11113 Keith S. Noll, Space Telescope Science Institute Binaries in the Kuiper Belt: Probes of Solar System Formation and Evolution Abstract
11157 Joseph H. Rhee, University of California - Los Angeles NICMOS Imaging Survey of Dusty Debris Around Nearby Stars Across the Stellar Mass Spectrum Abstract
11175 Sandra M. Faber, University of California - Santa Cruz UV Imaging to Determine the Location of Residual Star Formation in Galaxies Recently Arrived on the Red Sequence Abstract
11178 William M. Grundy, Lowell Observatory Probing Solar System History with Orbits, Masses, and Colors of Transneptunian Binaries Abstract
11201 Nitya Kallivayalil, Harvard University Systemic and Internal motions of the Magellanic Clouds: Third Epoch Images Abstract
11210 George Fritz Benedict, University of Texas at Austin The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems 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
11225 C. S. Kochanek, The Ohio State University Research Foundation The Wavelength Dependence of Accretion Disk Structure Abstract
11229 Margaret Meixner, Space Telescope Science Institute SEEDS: The Search for Evolution of Emission from Dust in Supernovae with HST and Spitzer Abstract
11289 Jean-Paul Kneib, Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale SL2S: The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey Abstract
11292 Mark Showalter, SETI Institute The Ring Plane Crossings of Uranus in 2007 Abstract
11294 Jesus Maiz Apellaniz, Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia The orbit of the most massive known astrometric binary Abstract

Some selected highlights

GO 11079: Treasury Imaging of Star Forming Regions in the Local Group: Complementing the GALEX and NOAO Surveys

The star forming region, N11, in the Small Magellanic Cloud Star formation is a complex process that takes place on many scales, from diffuse, low-level activity within dispersed clouds like the nearby Taurus association, through massive star forming regions, like Orion and 30 Doradus, to intense starbursts within galactic nucle and mergers. The aim of the present proposal is to use WFPC2 to survey a representative sample of active star-forming regions in local Group galaxies. The multicolour, high-resolution images, taken at passbands from the ultraviolet (F170W) to far-red (F814W) will allow H-R diagrams to be constructed, probing the distribution of ages and metallicities, and setting constraints on variations in the underlying initial mass function(s). In the coming week, observations are scheduled of OB associations in the two other large spirals in the local Group, M31 (Andromeda) and M33 (Triangulum).

GO 11210: The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems

Artist's impression of a young planetary system Immanuel Kant is generally credited with first proposing that the planets in the Solar System coalesced from a flat, rotating disk formed by the Solar Nebula. Direct confirmation of that process only came in the early 1990s, when millimetre-wave interferometers were able to detect molecular gas in Keplerian rotation around a handful of nearby young stars. Since then, there have been numerous other observations, including Hubble's images of proplyds (protoplanetary disks) in the Orion Cluster, and Hubble and Spitzer observations of edge-on disks in other young stars. One of the clear selling points of the Solar Nebula disk model is that it appears to offer a natural path to forming planets with coplanar orbits, matching (most of) our observations of the Solar System. On the other hand, as our knowledge of exoplanetary systems has accumulated over the last decade, it has become clear that dynamical interactions may play a very important role in the evolution of these systems. In particular, disk/planet interactions are generally regarded as responsible for the inward migration of gas giants to form hot Jupiters in <3 day period orbits. Planet-planet interactions could lead to significant changes in orbital inclination. Radial velocity planet searches are uncovering more and more multi-planet systems. This program focuses the high precision of HST's astrometric detectors, the Fine Guidance Sensors, on four of those systems. The aim is to complement the existing radial velocity measurements with sub-milliarcsecond precision astrometry, allowing determination of the true orbital paths - specifically, the relative inclination - of the low-mass objects in these systems.

GO 11292: The Ring Plane Crossings of Uranus in 2007

Images of Uranus spanning 2000 to 2004, showing the rotation of the ring plane Like the other Solar System gas giants, Uranus not only has an extensive number of satellite moons, but also possesses a ring system. Unlike the other giant planets, Uranus has a polar obliquity of 98o degrees, so its equator is close to perpendicular to the ecliptic plane. Consequently, from our vantage point on Earth, we view the north and south poles alternately during Uranus' 84-year circling of the Sun. Midway between the polar apparitions, of course, we view Uranus' equatorial plane - and see the ring system edge-on. The next ring plane crossing will occur in May and August 2007. At this juncture, the denser and more prominent rings will almost disappear from view, providing an opportunity to search for small satellite "shepherd" moons. These moons are expected to be present, acting as gravitational delineators, defining the radial size of the individual rings. Besides searching for the shepherds, the current HST program will use the the Planetary camera on WFPC2 to measure the thickness of the rings, and study the colours of the recently discovered fainter rings.

GO 11289: SL2S - The Strong Lensing Legacy Survey

ACS images of galaxy-galaxy Einstein ring lenses from the Sloan survey Gravitational lensing is a consequence the theory of general relativity. Its importance as an astrophysical tool first became apparent with the realisation (in 1979) that the quasar pair Q0957+561 actually comprised two lensed images of the same background quasar. In the succeeding years, lensing has been used primarily to probe the mass distribution of galaxy clusters, using theoretical models to analyse the arcs and arclets that are produced by strong lensing of background galaxies, and the large-scale mass distribution, through analysis of weak lensing effects on galaxy morphologies. Gravitational lensing can also be used to investigate the mass distribution of individual galaxies. Until recently, the most common background sources were quasars. Galaxy-galaxy lenses, however, offer a distinct advantage, since the background source is extended, and therefore imposes a stronger constraints on the mass distribution of the lensing galaxy than a point-source QSO. The CFHT Legacy survey provides a powerful tool for identifying candidate galaxy-galaxy lenses. Optical ground-based imaging, even from Hawaii, cannot match the results from a 2.4-metre telescope in orbit. Thus, the present program is using WFPC2 imaging to verify the nature of those candidates. The high resolution images can then be analysed to model the underlying mass distribution.

Past weeks:
page by Neill Reid, updated 29/6/2007