STAGES: the Space Telescope A901/2 Galaxy Evolution Survey

We present an overview of the Space Telescope A901/2 Galaxy Evolution Survey (STAGES). STAGES is a multiwavelength project designed to probe physical drivers of galaxy evolution across a wide range of environments and luminosity. A complex multicluster system at z similar to 0.165 has been the subject of an 80-orbit F606W Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) mosaic covering the full 0 degrees.5 x 0 degrees.5 (similar to 5 x 5 Mpc(2)) span of the supercluster. Extensive multiwavelength observations with XMM-Newton, GALEX, Spitzer, 2dF, Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope and the 17-band COMBO-17 photometric redshift survey complement the HST imaging. Our survey goals include simultaneously linking galaxy morphology with other observables such as age, star formation rate, nuclear activity and stellar mass. In addition, with the multiwavelength data set and new high-resolution mass maps from gravitational lensing, we are able to disentangle the large-scale structure of the system. By examining all aspects of an environment we will be able to evaluate the relative importance of the dark matter haloes, the local galaxy density and the hot X-ray gas in driving galaxy transformation. This paper describes the HST imaging, data reduction and creation of a master catalogue. We perform the Sersic fitting on the HST images and conduct associated simulations to quantify completeness. In addition, we present the COMBO-17 photometric redshift catalogue and estimates of stellar masses and star formation rates for this field. We define galaxy and cluster sample selection criteria, which will be the basis for forthcoming science analyses, and present a compilation of notable objects in the field. Finally, we describe the further multiwavelength observations and announce public access to the data and catalogues.


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