Discovery of a Large Number of Candidate Protoclusters Traced By Similar to 15 Mpc-Scale Galaxy Overdensities in COSMOS
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To demonstrate the feasibility of studying the epoch of massive galaxy cluster Formation in a more systematic manner using current and future galaxy surveys, we report the discovery of a large sample of protocluster candidates in the 1.62 deg(2) COSMOS/UltraVISTA field traced by optical/infrared selected galaxies using photometric redshifts. By comparing properly smoothed three-dimensional galaxy density maps of the observations and a set of matched simulations incorporating the dominant observational effects (galaxy selection and photometric redshift uncertainties), we first confirm that the observed similar to 15 comoving Mpc-scale galaxy clustering is consistent with Lambda CDM models. Using further the relation between high-z overdensity and the present day cluster mass calibrated in these matched simulations, we found 36 candidate structures at 1.6 < z < 3.1, showing overdensities consistent with the progenitors of M-z=0 similar to 10(15) M-circle dot clusters. Taking into account the significant upward scattering of lower mass structures, the probabilities for the candidates to have at least M-z=0 similar to 10(14) M-circle dot are similar to 70%. For each structure, about 15%-40% of photometric galaxy candidates are expected to be true protocluster members that will merge into a cluster-scale halo by z = 0. With solely photometric redshifts, we successfully rediscover two spectroscopically confirmed structures in this field, suggesting that our algorithm is robust. This work generates a large sample of uniformly selected protocluster candidates, providing rich targets for spectroscopic follow-up and subsequent studies of cluster Formation. Meanwhile, it demonstrates the potential for probing early cluster Formation with upcoming redshift surveys such as the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment and the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph survey.
CitationChiang, Yi-Kuan, Roderik Overzier, and Karl Gebhardt. "Discovery of a Large Number of Candidate Protoclusters Traced by~ 15 Mpc-scale Galaxy Overdensities in COSMOS." The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 782, No. 1 (Feb., 2014): L3.
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