Estimating luminosity function constraints from high-redshift galaxy surveys

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

The installation of the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will revolutionize the study of high-redshift galaxy populations. Initial observations of the HST Ultra Deep Field (UDF) have yielded multiple z ≳ 7 dropout candidates. Supplemented by the GOODS Early Release Science (ERS) and further UDF pointings, these data will provide crucial information about the most distant known galaxies. However, achieving tight constraints on the z ∼ 7 galaxy luminosity function (LF) will require even more ambitious photometric surveys. Using a Fisher matrix approach to fully account for Poisson and cosmic sample variance, as well as covariances in the data, we estimate the uncertainties on LF parameters achieved by surveys of a given area and depth. Applying this method to WFC3 z ∼ 7 dropout galaxy samples, we forecast the LF parameter uncertainties for a variety of model surveys. We demonstrate that performing a wide area (∼ 1 deg2) survey to H AB ∼ 27 depth or increasing the UDF depth to H AB ∼ 30 provides excellent constraints on the high-z ∼ LF when combined with the existing Ultradeep Field Guest Observation and GOODS ERS data. We also show that the shape of the matter power spectrum may limit the possible gain of splitting wide area (≳0.5 deg2) high-redshift surveys into multiple fields to probe statistically independent regions; the increased rms density fluctuations in smaller volumes mostly offset the improved variance gained from independent samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1266-1281
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume713
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

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Keywords

  • Galaxies: abundances
  • Methods: statistical
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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