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Wide-Field, Ultra-Deep Surveys from Space

Published onJun 01, 2020
Wide-Field, Ultra-Deep Surveys from Space

While existing and upcoming Ultra Deep Field surveys, with HST and JWST, typically cover areas a few arcminutes across, limited by the field of view of the instruments, a dramatic improvement will be offered by WFIRST. Planned for launch in the coming decade, it will enable imaging across at much larger areas than generally achieved with Hubble, opening up completely new areas of parameter space for extragalactic deep fields including cosmology, supernova and galaxy evolution science. Equipped with a Wide Field Instrument (WFI) that has an instantaneous field of view of almost 1000 square arcminutes, covering wavelengths from the optical to the near-IR, this could enable Ultra Deep Field (UDF)-like depths similar to those obtained with Hubble, over an area about 100-200 times larger, for a comparable investment in time, and also provide valuable synergies with upcoming JWST surveys, including coverage of the existing HUDF region as well as the JWST NEP-Time Domain Field and other future JWST surveys. Moreover, wider fields on scales of 10-20 square degrees could achieve depths comparable to large HST surveys at medium depths such as GOODS and CANDELS, and would enable multi-epoch supernova science that could be matched in area to LSST Deep Drilling fields or other large survey areas. Finally, achieving HUDF-quality imaging over areas 100x larger than the current Hubble field could yield thousands of galaxies at or beyond z ~ 8–10, dramatically increasing the discovery potential at these earliest epochs of cosmic time.

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