WEAVE-StePS: A stellar population survey using WEAVE at WHT

Iovino, A.; Poggianti, B. M.; Mercurio, A.; Longhetti, M.; Bolzonella, M.; Busarello, G.; Gullieuszik, M.; La Barbera, F.; Merluzzi, P.; Morelli, L.; Tortora, C.; Vergani, D.; Zibetti, S.; Haines, C. P.; Costantin, L.; Ditrani, F. R.; Pozzetti, L.; Angthopo, J.; Balcells, M.; Bardelli, S.; Benn, C. R.; Bianconi, M.; Cassarà, L. P.; Corsini, E. M.; Cucciati, O.; Dalton, G.; Ferré-Mateu, A.; Fossati, M.; Gallazzi, A.; García-Benito, R.; Granett, B.; González Delgado, R. M.; Ikhsanova, A.; Iodice, E.; Jin, S.; Knapen, J. H.; McGee, S.; Moretti, A.; Murphy, D. N. A.; Peralta de Arriba, L.; Pizzella, A.; Sánchez-Blázquez, P.; Spiniello, C.; Talia, M.; Trager, S. C.; Vazdekis, A.; Vulcani, B.; Zucca, E.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Context. The upcoming new generation of optical spectrographs on four-meter-class telescopes will provide valuable opportunities for forthcoming galaxy surveys through their huge multiplexing capabilities, excellent spectral resolution, and unprecedented wavelength coverage.
Aims: WEAVE is a new wide-field spectroscopic facility mounted on the 4.2 m William Herschel Telescope in La Palma. WEAVE-StePS is one of the five extragalactic surveys that will use WEAVE during its first five years of operations. It will observe galaxies using WEAVE MOS (∼950 fibres distributed across a field of view of ∼3 square degrees on the sky) in low-resolution mode (R ∼ 5000, spanning the wavelength range 3660 − 9590 Å).
Methods: WEAVE-StePS will obtain high-quality spectra (S/N ∼ 10 Å−1 at R ∼ 5000) for a magnitude-limited (IAB = 20.5) sample of ∼25 000 galaxies, the majority selected at z ≥ 0.3. The survey goal is to provide precise spectral measurements in the crucial interval that bridges the gap between LEGA-C and SDSS data. The wide area coverage of ∼25 square degrees will enable us to observe galaxies in a variety of environments. The ancillary data available in each of the observed fields (including X-ray coverage, multi-narrow-band photometry and spectroscopic redshift information) will provide an environmental characterisation for each observed galaxy.
Results: This paper presents the science case of WEAVE-StePS, the fields to be observed, the parent catalogues used to define the target sample, and the observing strategy that was chosen after a forecast of the expected performance of the instrument for our typical targets.
Conclusions: WEAVE-StePS will go back further in cosmic time than SDSS, extending its reach to encompass more than ∼6 Gyr. This is nearly half of the age of the Universe. The spectral and redshift range covered by WEAVE-StePS will open a new observational window by continuously tracing the evolutionary path of galaxies in the largely unexplored intermediate-redshift range.
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