The Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey (NGVS)

PI: Laura Ferrarese, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center, Victoria, Canada.


The Virgo Cluster is the dominant mass concentration in the local universe and the largest collection of galaxies within ~35 Mpc. As the most thoroughly studied cluster in the universe, it is the target of many ongoing and planned surveys at X-ray, UV, IR, submm and radio wavelengths. However, the best existing optical survey of the Virgo Cluster — the photographic Virgo Cluster Catalog of Binggeli et al. (1985) — is now nearly a quarter century old and hopelessly out of date by modern standards. We propose to capitalize on the wide-field imaging capabilities of MegaPrime to carry out the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey: a programme to survey the cluster from its core to virial radius, in u*g r i z , to a point-source depth of g ~25.7 mag and a corresponding surface brightness of g ~ 27.7 mag arcsec-2. The NGVS will completely supersede all existing optical studies of this uniquely important system, and, by leveraging the vast amount of data at other wavelengths, will allow us to address a wide range of fundamental astrophysical questions, including: the faint-end shape of the luminosity function, the characterization of galaxy scaling relations over a factor 107 in mass, the cluster/intracluster medium/galaxy connection, and the fossil record of star formation and chemical enrichment at z~0. Numerous ancillary projects — from a survey of the Galactic halo to cosmic shear measurements — will also be enabled. The NGVS will be a lasting legacy of CFHT: not only will it be the definitive study of baryonic substructures in a low-z cluster environment, but it will yield the benchmark observational database against which the next generation of hierarchical formation models will be tested.


The Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey (NGVS) is a CFHT large program that was allocated 771 hours of observing time on MegaCam. The program was executed during the 2008A to 2012B semesters.

The data can be downloaded directly from the CADC using the following URLs:
Access all NGVS data at the CADC.
Raw data only.
Processed data only.