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A Hubble Astrometry Initiative: Laying the Foundation for the Next-Generation Proper-Motion Survey of the Local Group

  • Kallivayalil, Nitya
  • Wetzel, Andrew R.
  • Simon, Joshua D.
  • Boylan-Kolchin, Michael
  • Deason, Alis J.
  • Fritz, Tobias K.
  • Geha, Marla
  • Sohn, Sangmo Tony
  • Weisz, Daniel R.
Publication Date
Mar 05, 2015
Submission Date
Mar 05, 2015
arXiv ID: 1503.01785
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High-precision astrometry throughout the Local Group is a unique capability of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), with potential for transformative science, including constraining the nature of dark matter, probing the epoch of reionization, and understanding key physics of galaxy evolution. While Gaia will provide unparalleled astrometric precision for bright stars in the inner halo of the Milky Way, HST is the only current mission capable of measuring accurate proper motions for systems at greater distances (> 80 kpc), which represents the vast majority of galaxies in the Local Group. The next generation of proper-motion measurements will require long time baselines, spanning many years to decades and possibly multiple telescopes, combining HST with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) or the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). However, the current HST allocation process is not conducive to such multi-cycle/multi-mission science, which will bear fruit primarily over many years. We propose an HST astrometry initiative to enable long-time-baseline, multi-mission science, which we suggest could be used to provide comprehensive kinematic measurements of all dwarf galaxies and high surface-density stellar streams in the Local Group with HST's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) or Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Such an initiative not only would produce forefront scientific results within the next 5 years of HST's life, but also would serve as a critical anchor point for future missions to obtain unprecedented astrometric accuracy, ensuring that HST leaves a unique and lasting legacy for decades to come.


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