The Blanco cosmology survey: Data acquisition, processing, calibration, quality diagnostics, and data release

S. Desai, R. Armstrong, J. J. Mohr, D. R. Semler, J. Liu, E. Bertin, S. S. Allam, W. A. Barkhouse, G. Bazin, E. J. Buckley-Geer, M. C. Cooper, S. M. Hansen, F. W. High, H. Lin, Y. T. Lin, C. C. Ngeow, A. Rest, J. Song, D. Tucker, A. Zenteno

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The Blanco Cosmology Survey (BCS) is a 60 night imaging survey of ∼80deg2 of the southern sky located in two fields: (α, δ) = (5hr, -55°) and (23hr, -55°). The survey was carried out between 2005 and 2008 in griz bands with the Mosaic2 imager on the Blanco 4m telescope. The primary aim of the BCS survey is to provide the data required to optically confirm and measure photometric redshifts for Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect selected galaxy clusters from the South Pole Telescope and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. We process and calibrate the BCS data, carrying out point-spread function-corrected model-fitting photometry for all detected objects. The median 10σ galaxy (point-source) depths over the survey in griz are approximately 23.3 (23.9), 23.4 (24.0), 23.0 (23.6), and 21.3 (22.1), respectively. The astrometric accuracy relative to the USNO-B survey is ∼45 mas. We calibrate our absolute photometry using the stellar locus in grizJ bands, and thus our absolute photometric scale derives from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which has ∼2% accuracy. The scatter of stars about the stellar locus indicates a systematic floor in the relative stellar photometric scatter in griz that is ∼1.9%, ∼2.2%, ∼2.7%, and ∼2.7%, respectively. A simple cut in the AstrOmatic star-galaxy classifier spread-model produces a star sample with good spatial uniformity. We use the resulting photometric catalogs to calibrate photometric redshifts for the survey and demonstrate scatter δz/(1 + z) = 0.054 with an outlier fraction η < 5% to z ∼ 1. We highlight some selected science results to date and provide a full description of the released data products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2012


  • cosmology: observations
  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • methods: data analysis
  • surveys
  • techniques: image processing


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  • The Blanco Cosmology Survey (BCS)

    Desai, S. (Creator), Armstrong, R. (Creator), Mohr, J. J. (Creator), Semler, D. R. (Creator), Liu, J. (Creator), Bertin, E. (Creator), Allam, S. S. (Creator), Barkhouse, W. A. (Creator), Bazin, G. (Creator), Buckley-Geer, E. J. (Creator), Cooper, M. C. (Creator), Hansen, S. M. (Creator), High, F. W. (Creator), Lin, H. (Creator), Lin, Y. (Creator), Ngeow, C. (Creator), Rest, A. (Creator), Song, J. (Creator), Tucker, D. (Creator) & Zenteno, A. (Creator), Centre de Donnees Strasbourg (CDS), 2014


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