zCOSMOS is a large-redshift survey that is being undertaken in the COSMOS field using 600 hr of observation with the VIMOS spectrograph on the 8 m VLT. The survey is designed to characterize the environments of COSMOS galaxies from the 100 kpc scales of galaxy groups up to the 100 Mpc scale of the cosmic web and to produce diagnostic information on galaxies and active galactic nuclei. The zCOSMOS survey consists of two parts: (1) zCOSMOSbright, a magnitude-limited I-band I AB < 22.5 sample of about 20,000 galaxies with 0.1 < z < 1.2 covering the whole 1.7 deg 2 COSMOS ACS field, for which the survey parameters at z ∼ 0.7 are designed to be directly comparable to those of the 2dFGRS at z ∼ 0.1 ; and (2) zCOSMOS-deep, a survey of approximately 10,000 galaxies selected through color-selection criteria to have 1.4 < z < 3.0, within the central 1 deg 2. This paper describes the survey design and the construction of the target catalogs and briefly outlines the observational program and the data pipeline. In the first observing season, spectra of 1303 zCOSMOS-bright targets and 977 zCOSMOS-deep targets have been obtained. These are briefly analyzed to demonstrate the characteristics that may be expected from zCOSMOS, and particularly zCOSMOS-bright, when it is finally completed between 2008 and 2009. The power of combining spectroscopic and photometric redshifts is demonstrated, especially in correctly identifying the emission line in single-line spectra and in determining which of the less reliable spectroscopic redshifts are correct and which are incorrect. These techniques bring the overall success rate in the zCOSMOS-bright so far to almost 90% and to above 97% in the 0.5 < z < 0.8 redshift range. Our zCOSMOS-deep spectra demonstrate the power of our selection techniques to isolate high-redshift galaxies at 1.4 < z < 3.0 and of VIMOS to measure their redshifts using ultraviolet absorption lines.
- Cosmology: observations
- Galaxies: active
- Galaxies: distances and redshifts galaxies: evolution
- Large-scale structure of universe
- Quasars: general