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Published March 1, 2017 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

The Frontier Fields: Survey Design and Initial Results


What are the faintest distant galaxies we can see with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) now, before the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope? This is the challenge taken up by the Frontier Fields, a Director's discretionary time campaign with HST and the Spitzer Space Telescope to see deeper into the universe than ever before. The Frontier Fields combines the power of HST and Spitzer with the natural gravitational telescopes of massive high-magnification clusters of galaxies to produce the deepest observations of clusters and their lensed galaxies ever obtained. Six clusters—Abell 2744, MACSJ0416.1-2403, MACSJ0717.5+3745, MACSJ1149.5+2223, Abell S1063, and Abell 370—have been targeted by the HST ACS/WFC and WFC3/IR cameras with coordinated parallel fields for over 840 HST orbits. The parallel fields are the second-deepest observations thus far by HST with 5σ point-source depths of ~29th ABmag. Galaxies behind the clusters experience typical magnification factors of a few, with small regions magnified by factors of 10–100. Therefore, the Frontier Field cluster HST images achieve intrinsic depths of ~30–33 mag over very small volumes. Spitzer has obtained over 1000 hr of Director's discretionary imaging of the Frontier Field cluster and parallels in IRAC 3.6 and 4.5 μm bands to 5σ point-source depths of ~26.5, 26.0 ABmag. We demonstrate the exceptional sensitivity of the HST Frontier Field images to faint high-redshift galaxies, and review the initial results related to the primary science goals.

Additional Information

© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 May 19; revised 2016 October 19; accepted 2016 October 26; published 2017 March 7. The Frontier Fields program was initiated by STScI Director Dr. Matt Mountain using Director's discretionary time on the Hubble Space Telescope. We wish to acknowledge the Hubble Deep Fields Initiative science working group members for conceiving and recommending the Frontier Fields program: J. Bullock (chair), M. Dickinson, S. Finkelstein, A. Fontana, A. Hornschemeier Cardiff, J. Lotz, P. Natarajan, A. Pope, B. Robertson, B. Siana, J. Tumlinson, and M. Wood-Vasey. We also thank the mid-term Frontier Fields review committee for their service: J Bullock, M. Dickinson, R. Ellis, M. Kriek, S. Oey, S. Seitz, S. A. Stanford, and J. Tumlinson. We recognize the contributors to the current Frontier Field lensing models: M. Bradac̆, S. Allen, D. Applegate, B. Cain, A. Hoag, P. Kelly, P. Schneider, T. Schrabback, T. Treu, A. von der Linden, J.-P. Kneib, P. Natarajan, H. Ebeling, J. Richard, B. Clement, M. Jauzac, E. Jullo, M. Limousin, E. Egami, J. Merten, A. Zitrin, I. Balestra, M. Bartelmann, N. Benitez, A. Biviano, T. Broadhurst, M. Carrasco, D. Coe, N. Czakon, M. Donahue, T. Eichner, R. Ellis, C. Giocoli, S. Golwala, C. Grillo, O. Host, L. Infante, S. Jouvel, D. Lemze, A. Mercurio, E. Medezinski, P. Melchior, A. Molino, M. Meneghetti, A. Monna, J. Moustakas, L. Moustakas, T. Mroczkowski, M. Nonino, M. Okabe, M. Postman, J. Rhodes, P. Rosati, J. Sayers, S. Seitz, K. Umetsu, K. Sharon, T. Johnson, M. Bayliss, L. Wiliams, I. Mohammed, P. Saha, J. Liesenborgs, K. Sebesta, M. Ishigaki, R. Kawamata, M. Oguri, J. M. Diego, D. Lam, and J. Lim. Finally, we thank David Adler, George Chapman, Bill Workman, Ian Jordan, Alan Welty, Karen Levay, Scott Fleming, Brandon Lawton, Carol Christian, Tony Darnell, Frank Summers, Kathy Cordes, Bonnie Eisenhamer, Lisa Frattare, Ann Jenkins, Hussein Jirdeh, John Maple, Holly Ryer, Ray Villard, Tracy Vogel, and Donna Weaver for their contributions to the HST Frontier Fields effort. We acknowledge the ASTRODEEP team for their public Frontier Fields galaxy catalogs for Abell 2744, MACSJ0416.1-2403, and associated parallel fields. Based on observations obtained with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, retrieved from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. This work is based in part on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. This work utilizes gravitational lensing models produced by PIs Bradač, Natarajan & Kneib (CATS), Merten & Zitrin, Sharon, Williams, and the GLAFIC and Diego groups. This lens modeling was partially funded by the HST Frontier Fields program conducted by STScI. We acknowledge ESO VIMOS CLASH-VLT Large Programme (186.A-0798, PI P. Rosati). Based on data collected at Subaru Telescope by PI K. Umetsu and archival imaging obtained from Subaru–Mitaka–Okayama–Kiso Archive (SMOKA), which is operated by the Astronomy Data Center, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

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Published - Lotz_2017_ApJ_837_97.pdf

Submitted - 1605.06567.pdf


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August 19, 2023
March 5, 2024