NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0544

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Proposal Information for 2011B-0544


PI: Kenneth C. Wong, University of Arizona, kwong@as.arizona.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, 933 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

CoI: S. Mark Ammons, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
CoI: Ann I. Zabludoff, University of Arizona
CoI: Charles R. Keeton, Rutgers University

Title: Finding the Most Powerful Gravitational Lens Telescopes with WIYN/MiniMo

Abstract: Detecting the earliest galaxies at z \gtrsim 7 has been a major challenge, requiring large investments of \emphHST time. Past \emphHST studies have only detected a handful of candidates. Gravitational lensing by a foreground galaxy cluster can make these sources easier to detect, but reduces the overall volume surveyed. Hence, there is much discussion of the trade-offs between different methodologies. To resolve this debate, we have developed a new theoretical framework that quantifies the lensing effects of different line-of-sight mass distributions on the detectability of z \gtrsim 7 sources. We find configurations of multiple superposed structures that could produce a ~ 10 \times increase in the number of detected z \gtrsim 7 sources (compared to blank field surveys), as well as a ~ 8 \times increase in the number of z ~ 1-2 arcs detected at better than \emphHST resolution (compared to known lensing clusters). To take advantage of this unprecedented magnification and spatial resolution, we have identified the 40 lines-of-sight in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with the highest integrated luminosity densities, which are the best candidates for the most powerful gravitational lens telescopes in the sky. Determining the locations, colors, and morphologies of the resulting arcs at z ~ 1-2 is critical to modeling the mass along the line of sight so that follow-up z \gtrsim 7 source detection is possible. These arcs will also provide a unique opportunity to study previously inaccessible properties of z ~ 1-2 galaxies. Here we propose to use WIYN/MiniMo to identify and model the arc distribution. This program is well suited to WIYN/MiniMo's excellent depth aand good spatial resolution. This proposal is complemented by a successful, on-going pilot spectroscopic program.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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