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The End of Galaxy Surveys

Rhodes, Jason D. and Huff, Eric and Masters, Daniel and Nierenberg, Anna (2020) The End of Galaxy Surveys. Astronomical Journal, 160 (6). Art. No. 261. ISSN 1538-3881. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/abbe86.

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For nearly a century, imaging and spectroscopic surveys of galaxies have given us information about the contents of the universe. We attempt to define the logical end point of such surveys by defining not the next galaxy survey but rather the final galaxy survey at near-infrared wavelengths; this would be the galaxy survey that exhausts the information content useful for addressing extant questions. Such a survey would require incredible advances in a number of technologies, and the survey details will depend on the as yet poorly constrained properties of the earliest galaxies. Using an exposure time calculator, we define nominal surveys for extracting the useful information for three science cases: dark energy cosmology, galaxy evolution, and supernovae (SN). We define scaling relations that trade off sky background, telescope aperture, and focal plane size to allow for a survey of a given depth over a given area. For optimistic assumptions, a 280 m telescope with a marginally resolved focal plane of 20 deg² operating at L2 could potentially exhaust the cosmological information content of galaxies in a 10 yr survey. For galaxy evolution (making use of gravitational lensing to magnify the earliest galaxies) and SN, the same telescope would suffice. We discuss the technological advances needed to complete the last galaxy survey. While the final galaxy survey remains well outside of our technical reach today, we present scaling relations that show how we can progress toward the goal of exhausting the information content encoded in the shapes, positions, and colors of galaxies.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Rhodes, Jason D.0000-0002-4485-8549
Huff, Eric0000-0002-9378-3424
Masters, Daniel0000-0001-5382-6138
Nierenberg, Anna0000-0001-6809-2536
Additional Information:© 2020. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 July 27; revised 2020 September 28; accepted 2020 October 4; published 2020 November 13. We thank the JPL Blue Skies Program run by Leon Alkalai, Blue Skies Program manager Adrian Stoica, and JPL's Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Tom Soderstrom for useful discussions and funding to pursue the ideas in this paper. This research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004). JPL is operated under contract for NASA by Caltech. We thank Steven Rodney for useful discussions about the earliest SN. We thank Bertrand Mennesson and Asantha Cooray for discussions about zodiacal backgrounds. Early discussions about ending galaxy surveys with David Schlegel helped formulate the ideas that led to this paper. We thank Andrew Benson and Kris Pardo for useful comments on the paper draft. J.R. thanks IPMU for a place to think and discuss the ideas that led to this paper. We thank the anonymous referee for enthusiasm about the subject matter and helpful suggestions to improve clarity.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Cosmology ; Galaxy evolution ; Supernovae ; Astronomical instrumentation ; Optical telescopes
Issue or Number:6
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Cosmology (343); Galaxy evolution (594); Supernovae (1668); Astronomical instrumentation (799); Optical telescopes (1174)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201113-100153345
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Official Citation:Jason D. Rhodes et al 2020 AJ 160 261
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106669
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Nov 2020 15:05
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:55

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