Current Science at NOAO

The NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey

Buell Jannuzi and Arjun Dey, NOAO/National Science Foundation

A small portion of the survey reveals many interesting structures.

June, 1999  |  A team of NOAO astronomers let by staff members Buell Jannuzi and Arjun Dey are conducting a deep imaging survey of two 9-square-degree patches of sky in the directions of the constellations Bootes, near the North Galactic Pole, and Cetus, about 30 degrees from the South Galactic Pole. These two patches of sky each cover an area equivalent to about 46 times the area of the full moon. Their goal is to use these deep optical and near-infrared images to study the evolution of large-scale structure in the Universe from z~1 to z~4, corresponding to times when the Universe was much younger than it is today. The formation and evolution of the galaxy populations and of distant star-forming galaxies and quasars can also be studied from these deep survey images.

Such deep, large area surveys are now feasible due to the improved sensitivity and size of optical and IR imaging cameras. The optical images are being obtained with the new MOSAIC CCD cameras on NOAO's two 4-m telescopes. Each MOSAIC image covers a 36' x 36' field, and nearly 2000 images will be needed to complete the optical portion of the survey through three different color filters. Objects as faint as 28th magnitude per square arc second (nearly a billion times fainter than the eye can see) should be detected. The astronomers combine the separate images in the three colors to produce true-color optical images. The survey is already identifying candidate, high-redshift galaxies with with redshifts between 3-4.

The tens of thousands of smaller IR images are also being obtained in three infrared colors. Jannuzi, Dey and the rest of the survey team are currently making survey observations with the Ohio State/NOAO Imaging Spectrograph at the Kitt Peak 2.1-m telescope, which provides a 2.9' x 5.8' field of view. When the upgraded SQIID infrared camera becomes available in 2000, the astronomers will be able to image the sky in three infrared colors simultaneously over a larger, 6.5' x 6.5', field of view.

This deep survey will be valuable in addressing many interesting astronomical problems. The first sample data are have been released to the community, and are available on the World Wide Web. Further details on the survey design (e.g. field locations), updates on the survey progress, and information on how to obtain data when it is released is available at the Deep Wide-Field Survey Web site. The survey is expected to be completed in 2001.

For more information see:
   NOAO Newsletter

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