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Keck Deep Fields. I. Observations, Reductions, and the Selection of Faint Star-Forming Galaxies at Redshifts z~4, 3, and 2

Abstract

We introduce a very deep, R_lim~27, multicolor imaging survey of very faint star-forming galaxies at z~4, z~3, z~2.2, and z~1.7. This survey, carried out on the Keck I telescope, uses the very same UGRI filter system that is employed by the Steidel team to select galaxies at these redshifts, and thus allows us to construct identically-selected, but much fainter, samples. However, our survey reaches ~1.5 mag deeper than the work of Steidel and his group, letting us probe substantially below the characteristic luminosity L* and thus study the properties and redshift evolution of the faint component of the high-z galaxy population. The survey covers 169 square arcminutes in three spatially independent patches on the sky and -- to R<~27 -- contains 427 GRI-selected z~4 LBGs, 1481 UGR-selected z~3 LBGs, 2417 UGR-selected z~2.2 star-forming galaxies, and 2043 UGR-selected z~1.7 star-forming galaxies. In this paper, the first in a series, we introduce the survey, describe our observing and data reduction strategies, and outline the selection of our z~4, z~3, z~2.2, and z~1.7 samples.Comment: To appear in Ap

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