The Virgo Cluster is the dominant mass concentration in the Local Supercluster and the largest collection of elliptical and lenticular galaxies in the nearby universe. In this paper, we present an introduction to the ACS Virgo Cluster Survey: a program to image, in the F475W and F850LP bandpasses (≈ Sloan g and z), 100 early-type galaxies in the Virgo Cluster using the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. We describe the selection of the program galaxies and their ensemble properties, the choice of filters, the fieldplacement and orientation, the limiting magnitudes of the survey, coordinated parallel observations of 100 “intergalactic” fields with WFPC2, and supporting ground-based spectroscopic observations of the program galaxies. In terms of depth, spatial resolution, sample size and homogeneity, this represents the most comprehensive imaging survey to date of early-type galaxies in a cluster environment. We briefly describe the main scientific goals of the survey which include the measurement of luminosities, metallicities, ages, and structural parameters for the many thousands of globular clusters associated with these galaxies, a high resolution isophotal analysis of galaxies spanning a factor of ∼ 450 in luminosity and sharing a common environment, the measurement of accurate distances for the full sample of galaxies using the method of surface brightness fluctuations, and a determination of the three-dimensional structure of Virgo itself. (refer to pdf file for exact formula).

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Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/0404138 v1 6 Apr 2004 Support for program GO-9401 was provided through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. P.C. acknowledges additional support provided by NASA LTSA grant NAG5-11714. A.J. acknowledges additional financial support provided by the National Science Foundation through a grant from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NSF cooperative agreement AST-9613615, and by Fundacion Andes under project No.C-13442. M.M. acknowledges additional financial support provided by the Sherman M. Fairchild foundation. D.M. is supported by NSF grant AST-020631, NASA grant NAG5-9046, and grant HST-AR-09519.01-A from STScI. M.J.W. acknowledges support through NSF grant AST-0205960. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.ISSN:1538-4365 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

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Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus