The Fornax spectroscopic survey I. Survey strategy and preliminary results on the redshift distribution of a complete sample of stars and galaxies

MJ Drinkwater*, S Phillipps, JB Jones, MD Gregg, JH Deady, JI Davies, QA Parker, EM Sadler, RM Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The Fornax Spectroscopic Survey will use the Two degree Field spectrograph (2dF) of the Angle-Australian Telescope to obtain spectra for a complete sample of all 14000 objects with 16.5 less than or equal to b(j) less than or equal to 19.7 in a 12 square degree area centred on the Fornax Cluster. The aims of this project include the study of dwarf galaxies in the cluster (both known low surface brightness objects and putative normal surface brightness dwarfs) and a comparison sample of background field galaxies. We will also measure quasars and other active galaxies, any previously unrecognised compact galaxies and a large sample of Galactic stars. By selecting all objects-both stars and galaxies-independent of morphology, we cover a much larger range of surface brightness and scale size than previous surveys.

In this paper we first describe the design of the survey. Our targets are selected from UK Schmidt Telescope sky survey plates digitised by the Automated Plate Measuring (APM) facility. We then describe the photometric and astrometric calibration of these data and show that the APM astrometry is accurate enough for use with the 2dF. We also describe a general approach to object identification using cross-correlations which allows us to identify and classify both stellar and galaxy spectra.

We present results from the first 2dF field. Redshift distributions and velocity structures are shown for all observed objects in the direction of Fornax, including Galactic stars? galaxies in and around the Fornax Cluster, and for the background galaxy population. The velocity data for the stars show the contributions from the different Galactic components, plus a small tail to high velocities. We find no galaxies in the foreground to the cluster in our 2dF field. The Fornax Cluster is clearly defined kinematically. The mean velocity from the 26 cluster members having reliable redshifts is 1560 +/- 80 km s(-1). They show a velocity dispersion of 380 +/- 50 km s(-1). Large-scale structure can be traced behind the cluster to a redshift beyond z = 0.3. Background compact galaxies and low surface brightness galaxies are found to follow the general galaxy distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-914
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • astrometry
  • galaxies : active
  • galaxies : statistics
  • stars : statistics
  • surveys
  • techniques : spectroscopic


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