SKYSURF: Constraints on Zodiacal Light and Extragalactic Background Light through Panchromatic HST All-sky Surface-brightness Measurements. I. Survey Overview and Methods

Rogier A. Windhorst, Timothy Carleton, Rosalia O’Brien, Seth H. Cohen, Delondrae Carter, Rolf Jansen, Scott Tompkins, Richard G. Arendt, Sarah Caddy, Norman Grogin, Anton Koekemoer, John MacKenty, Stefano Casertano, Luke J.M. Davies, Simon P. Driver, Eli Dwek, Alexander Kashlinsky, Scott J. Kenyon, Nathan Miles, Nor PirzkalAaron Robotham, Russell Ryan, Haley Abate, Hanga Andras-Letanovszky, Jessica Berkheimer, John Chambers, Connor Gelb, Zak Goisman, Daniel Henningsen, Isabela Huckabee, Darby Kramer, Teerthal Patel, Rushabh Pawnikar, Ewan Pringle, Ci’mone Rogers, Steven Sherman, Andi Swirbul, Kaitlin Webber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

We give an overview and describe the rationale, methods, and testing of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Archival Legacy project “SKYSURF.” SKYSURF uses HST’s unique capability as an absolute photometer to measure the ∼0.2-1.7 μm sky-surface brightness (sky-SB) from 249,861 WFPC2, ACS, and WFC3 exposures in ∼1400 independent HST fields. SKYSURF’s panchromatic data set is designed to constrain the discrete and diffuse UV to near-IR sky components: Zodiacal Light (ZL), Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), Diffuse Galactic Light (DGL), and the discrete plus diffuse Extragalactic Background Light (EBL). We outline SKYSURF’s methods to: (1) measure sky-SB levels between detected objects; (2) measure the discrete EBL, most of which comes from AB≃17-22 mag galaxies; and (3) estimate how much truly diffuse light may exist. Simulations of HST WFC3/IR images with known sky values and gradients, realistic cosmic ray (CR) distributions, and star plus galaxy counts were processed with nine different algorithms to measure the “Lowest Estimated Sky-SB” (LES) in each image between the discrete objects. The best algorithms recover the LES values within 0.2% when there are no image gradients, and within 0.2%-0.4% when there are 5%-10% gradients. We provide a proof of concept of our methods from the WFC3/IR F125W images, where any residual diffuse light that HST sees in excess of zodiacal model predictions does not depend on the total object flux that each image contains. This enables us to present our first SKYSURF results on diffuse light in Carleton et al.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number141
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume164
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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