The Scientific Role of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph after SM4

Proffitt, Charles R.; Leitherer, C.; Aloisi, A.; Dressel, L. L.; Goudfrooij, P.; Kaiser, M.; Kriss, G. A.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; Sembach, K. R.
American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #211, #135.08; Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 39, p.973


The Hubble Space Telescope's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) was one of the most heavily utilized of HST's instruments from the time of its installation in 1997 until it suspended operations in August 2004.

Plans for the next HST Servicing Mission (SM4) include replacement of the failed power supply card which caused the suspension of the STIS instrument. This should return STIS to operation with capabilities similar to those it had before the 2004 failure. Even with the availability of WFC3 and COS which are also slated to be installed during SM4, STIS will retain a number of unique capabilities that will still make it the instrument of choice for many science programs. These include (1) the ability to obtain very high spatial resolution, long slit, 1st order spectra at wavelengths ranging from 1140 to 10200 angstroms, and (2) the ability of the high resolution echelle gratings to obtain spectral resolution in excess of 100,000 in the near and far-UV parts of the spectrum.

Extrasolar planets in occultation, stellar jets and ejecta, ISM and IGM observations requiring high spectral resolution, stellar surveys requiring both broad wavelength coverage and precise photometry, and studies of black holes in galactic centers are just some of the types of science programs that take advantage of these and other unique capabilities of STIS. We will discuss examples of how the unique abilities of STIS can be used to support particular science goals.