HETDEX pilot survey for emission-line galaxies - I. Survey design, performance, and catalog

Source: arXiv


We present a catalog of emission-line galaxies selected solely by their emission-line fluxes using a wide-field integral field spectrograph. This work is partially motivated as a pilot survey for the upcoming Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX). We describe the observations, reductions, detections, redshift classifications, line fluxes, and counterpart information for 397 emission-line galaxies detected over 169 sq.arcmin with a 3500-5800 Ang. bandpass under 5 Ang. full-width-half-maximum (FWHM) spectral resolution. The survey's best sensitivity for unresolved objects under photometric conditions is between 4-20 E-17 erg/s/ depending on the wavelength, and Ly-alpha luminosities between 3-6 E42 erg/s are detectable. This survey method complements narrowband and color-selection techniques in the search for high redshift galaxies with its different selection properties and large volume probed. The four survey fields within the COSMOS, GOODS-N, MUNICS, and XMM-LSS areas are rich with existing, complementary data. We find 104 galaxies via their high redshift Ly-alpha emission at 1.9<z<3.8, and the majority of the remainder objects are low redshift [OII]3727 emitters at z<0.56. The classification between low and high redshift objects depends on rest frame equivalent width, as well as other indicators, where available. Based on matches to X-ray catalogs, the active galactic nuclei (AGN) fraction amongst the Ly-alpha emitters (LAEs) is 6%. We also analyze the survey's completeness and contamination properties through simulations. We find five high-z, highly-significant, resolved objects with full-width-half-maximum sizes >44 sq.arcsec which appear to be extended Ly-alpha nebulae. We also find three high-z objects with rest frame Ly-alpha equivalent widths above the level believed to be achievable with normal star formation, EW(rest)>240 Ang. Comment: 45 pages, 36 figures, 5 tables, submitted to ApJS

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