EDisCS – the ESO distant cluster survey
Astronomy and Astrophysics
We present the ESO Distant Cluster Survey (EDisCS) a survey of 20 fields containing distant galaxy clusters with redshifts ranging from 0.4 to almost 1.0. Candidate clusters were chosen from among the brightest objects identified in the Las Campanas Distant Cluster Survey, half with estimated redshift z_est~0.5 and half with z_est~0.8. They were confirmed by identifying red sequences in moderately deep two colour data from VLT/FORS2. For confirmed candidates we have assembled deep three-band
... deep three-band optical photometry using VLT/FORS2, deep near-infrared photometry in one or two bands using NTT/SOFI, deep optical spectroscopy using VLT/FORS2, wide field imaging in two or three bands using the ESO Wide Field Imager, and HST/ACS mosaic images for 10 of the most distant clusters. This first paper presents our sample and the VLT photometry we have obtained. We present images, colour-magnitude diagrams and richness estimates for our clusters, as well as giving redshifts and positions for the brightest cluster members. Subsequent papers will present our infrared photometry, spectroscopy, HST and wide-field imaging, as well as a wealth of further analysis and science results. Our reduced data become publicly available as these papers are accepted.