A survey that can cover the sky in optical bands over wide fields to faint magnitudes with a fast cadence will enable many of the exciting science opportunities of the next decade. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will have an effective aperture of 6.7 meters and an imaging camera with field of view of 9.6 square degrees, and will be devoted to a ten-year imaging survey over 20,000 square degrees south of +15 deg. Each pointing will be imaged 2000 times with fifteen second exposures in six broad bands from 0.35 to 1.1 microns, to a total point-source depth of r~27.5. The LSST Science Book describes the basic parameters of the LSST hardware, software, and observing plans. The book discusses educational and outreach opportunities, then goes on to describe a broad range of science that LSST will revolutionize: mapping the inner and outer Solar System, stellar populations in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, the structure of the Milky Way disk and halo and other objects in the Local Volume, transient and variable objects both at low and high redshift, and the properties of normal and active galaxies at low and high redshift. It then turns to far-field cosmological topics, exploring properties of supernovae to z~1, strong and weak lensing, the large-scale distribution of galaxies and baryon oscillations, and how these different probes may be combined to constrain cosmological models and the physics of dark energy.
The Science Book, written by the LSST Science Collaborations and project members, can be downloaded as a PDF file in its entirety (596 pages, over 50 Mb) or by chapter. The current version was made public on October 16, 2009. We anticipate updating this text in a year or two. The full list of 245 contributing authors may be found here.
Major advances in our understanding of the Universe over the history of astronomy have often arisen from dramatic improvements in our ability to observe the sky to greater depth, in previously unexplored wavebands, with higher precision, or with improved spatial, spectral, or temporal resolution. Aided by rapid progress in information technology, current sky surveys are again changing the way we view and study the Universe, and the next-generation instruments, and the surveys that will be made with them, will maintain this revolutionary progress. Substantial progress in the important scientific problems of the next decade (determining the nature of dark energy and dark matter, studying the evolution of galaxies and the structure of our own Milky Way, opening up the time domain to discover faint variable objects, and mapping both the inner and outer Solar System) all require wide-field repeated deep imaging of the sky in optical bands. more...
Financial support for LSST comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded LSST Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). The DOE-funded effort to build the LSST camera is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
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