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Published September 2007 | Published
Journal Article Open

zCOSMOS: A large VLT/VIMOS redshift survey covering 0 < z < 3 in the COSMOS field


zCOSMOS is a large-redshift survey that is being undertaken in the COSMOS field using 600 hr of observation with the VIMOS spectrograph on the 8 m VLT. The survey is designed to characterize the environments of COSMOS galaxies from the 100 kpc scales of galaxy groups up to the 100 Mpc scale of the cosmic web and to produce diagnostic information on galaxies and active galactic nuclei. The zCOSMOS survey consists of two parts: (1) zCOSMOSbright, a magnitude-limited I-band I_(AB) < 22.5 sample of about 20,000 galaxies with 0.1 < z < 1.2 covering the whole 1.7 deg^2 COSMOS ACS field, for which the survey parameters at z ~ 0.7 are designed to be directly comparable to those of the 2dFGRS at z ~ 0.1; and (2) zCOSMOS-deep, a survey of approximately 10,000 galaxies selected through color-selection criteria to have 1.4 < z < 3.0, within the central 1 deg^2. This paper describes the survey design and the construction of the target catalogs and briefly outlines the observational program and the data pipeline. In the first observing season, spectra of 1303 zCOSMOS-bright targets and 977 zCOSMOS-deep targets have been obtained. These are briefly analyzed to demonstrate the characteristics that may be expected from zCOSMOS, and particularly zCOSMOS-bright, when it is finally completed between 2008 and 2009. The power of combining spectroscopic and photometric redshifts is demonstrated, especially in correctly identifying the emission line in single-line spectra and in determining which of the less reliable spectroscopic redshifts are correct and which are incorrect. These techniques bring the overall success rate in the zCOSMOS-bright so far to almost 90% and to above 97% in the 0.5 < z < 0.8 redshift range. Our zCOSMOS-deep spectra demonstrate the power of our selection techniques to isolate high-redshift galaxies at 1.4 < z < 3.0 and of VIMOS to measure their redshifts using ultraviolet absorption lines.

Additional Information

© 2007 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 April 28; accepted 2006 November 21. Based on observations undertaken at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) under Large Program 175.A-0839. Also based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), under NASA contract NAS 5Y26555, with the Subaru Telescope, operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, with the telescopes of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, and with the Canada-France- Hawaii Telescope, operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique de France, and the University of Hawaii. Efficient execution of such a large program in Service Mode on the VLT requires the efforts of many individual observatory staff at ESO, both in Garching and on Cerro Paranal, and we gratefully acknowledge the contribution of these many and regrettably sometimes anonymous individuals to our project. The zCOSMOS program builds on many of the hardware and software tools built by the VIMOS/VVDS team, and we gratefully acknowledge here the contribution of those in the VIMOS/VVDS team who are not part of the zCOSMOS project. Finally, we acknowledge with appreciation the contributions of those individuals not listed as authors who have worked, directly or indirectly, to produce the superb imaging data on which the COSMOS survey is based.

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