We show that a large-area imaging survey using narrow-band filters could detect quasars in sufficiently high number densities, and with more than sufficient accuracy in their photometric redshifts, to turn them into suitable tracers of large-scale structure. If a narrow-band optical survey can detect objects as faint as i= 23, it could reach volumetric number densities as high as 10-4 h3 Mpc-3 (comoving) at z~1.5. Such a catalogue would lead to precision measurements of the power spectrum up to z~3-4. We also show that it is possible to employ quasars to measure baryon acoustic oscillations at high redshifts, where the uncertainties from redshift distortions and non-linearities are much smaller than at z≲ 1. As a concrete example we study the future impact of the Javalambre Physics of the Accelerating Universe Astrophysical Survey (J-PAS), which is a narrow-band imaging survey in the optical over 1/5 of the unobscured sky with 42 filters of ~100-Å full width at half-maximum. We show that J-PAS will be able to take advantage of the broad emission lines of quasars to deliver excellent photometric redshifts, σz≃ 0.002 (1 +z), for millions of objects.

The Javalambre-Physics of the Accelerated Universe Astrophysical Survey (J-PAS) is a narrow band, very wide field Cosmological Survey to be carried out from the Javalambre Observatory in Spain with a purpose-built, dedicated 2.5m telescope and a 4.7 sq.deg. camera with 1.2Gpix. Starting in late 2015, J-PAS will observe 8500sq.deg. of Northern Sky and measure 0.003(1+z) photo-z for 9×10

^{7}LRG and ELG galaxies plus several million QSOs, sampling an effective volume of ∼14 Gpc^{3}up to z=1.3 and becoming the first radial BAO experiment to reach Stage IV. J-PAS will detect 7×10^{5}galaxy clusters and groups, setting constrains on Dark Energy which rival those obtained from its BAO measurements. Thanks to the superb characteristics of the site (seeing ~0.7 arcsec), J-PAS is expected to obtain a deep, sub-arcsec image of the Northern sky, which combined with its unique photo-z precision will produce one of the most powerful cosmological lensing surveys before the arrival of Euclid. J-PAS unprecedented spectral time domain information will enable a self-contained SN survey that, without the need for external spectroscopic follow-up, will detect, classify and measure σz∼0.5% redshifts for ∼4000 SNeIa and ∼900 core-collapse SNe. The key to the J-PAS potential is its innovative approach: a contiguous system of 54 filters with $145\AA$ width, placed $100\AA$ apart over a multi-degree FoV is a powerful "redshift machine", with the survey speed of a 4000 multiplexing low resolution spectrograph, but many times cheaper and much faster to build. The J-PAS camera is equivalent to a 4.7 sq.deg. "IFU" and it will produce a time-resolved, 3D image of the Northern Sky with a very wide range of Astrophysical applications in Galaxy Evolution, the nearby Universe and the study of resolved stellar populations.
Baryon Acoustic Oscillations (BAOs) provide a "standard ruler" of known physical length, making it one of the most promising probes of the nature of dark energy (DE). The detection of BAOs as an excess of power in the galaxy distribution at a certain scale requires measuring galaxy positions and redshifts. "Transversal" (or "angular") BAOs measure the angular size of this scale projected in the sky and provide information about the angular distance. "Line-of-sight" (or "radial") BAOs require very precise redshifts, but provide a direct measurement of the Hubble parameter at different redshifts, a more sensitive probe of DE. The main goal of this paper is to show that it is possible to obtain photometric redshifts with enough precision (σ z ) to measure BAOs along the line of sight. There is a fundamental limitation as to how much one can improve the BAO measurement by reducing σ z . We show that σ z ~ 0.003(1 + z) is sufficient: a much better precision will produce an oversampling of the BAO peak without a significant improvement on its detection, while a much worse precision will result in the effective loss of the radial information. This precision in redshift can be achieved for bright, red galaxies, featuring a prominent 4000 Å break, by using a filter system comprising about 40 filters, each with a width close to 100 Å, covering the wavelength range from ~4000 to ~8000 Å, supplemented by two broad-band filters similar to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey u and z bands. We describe the practical implementation of this idea, a new galaxy survey project, PAU16Physics of the Accelerating Universe (PAU): http://www.ice.cat/pau., to be carried out with a telescope/camera combination with an etendue about 20 m2 deg2, equivalent to a 2 m telescope equipped with a 6 deg2 field of view camera, and covering 8000 deg2 in the sky in four years. We expect to measure positions and redshifts for over 14 million red, early-type galaxies with L > L sstarf and iAB lsim 22.5 in the redshift interval 0.1 < z < 0.9, with a precision σ z < 0.003(1 + z). This population has a number density n gsim 10-3 Mpc-3 h 3 galaxies within the 9 Gpc3 h -3 volume to be sampled by our survey, ensuring that the error in the determination of the BAO scale is not limited by shot noise. By itself, such a survey will deliver precisions of order 5% in the dark-energy equation of state parameter w, if assumed constant, and can determine its time derivative when combined with future cosmic microwave background measurements. In addition, PAU will yield high-quality redshift and low-resolution spectroscopy for hundreds of millions of other galaxies, including a very significant high-redshift population. The data set produced by this survey will have a unique legacy value, allowing a wide range of astrophysical studies.

In the coming years, several cosmological surveys will rely on imaging data to estimate the redshift of galaxies, using traditional filter systems with 4-5 optical broad bands; narrower filters improve the spectral resolution, but strongly reduce the total system throughput. We explore how photometric redshift performance depends on the number of filters nf , characterizing the survey depth by the fraction of galaxies with unambiguous redshift estimates. For a combination of total exposure time and telescope imaging area of 270 hr m2, 4-5 filter systems perform significantly worse, both in completeness depth and precision, than systems with nf gsim 8 filters. Our results suggest that for low nf the color-redshift degeneracies overwhelm the improvements in photometric depth, and that even at higher nf the effective photometric redshift depth decreases much more slowly with filter width than naively expected from the reduction in the signal-to-noise ratio. Adding near-IR observations improves the performance of low-nf systems, but still the system which maximizes the photometric redshift completeness is formed by nine filters with logarithmically increasing bandwidth (constant resolution) and half-band overlap, reaching ~0.7 mag deeper, with 10% better redshift precision, than 4-5 filter systems. A system with 20 constant-width, nonoverlapping filters reaches only ~0.1 mag shallower than 4-5 filter systems, but has a precision almost three times better, δz = 0.014(1 + z) versus δz = 0.042(1 + z). We briefly discuss a practical implementation of such a photometric system: the ALHAMBRA Survey.

We revisit the kink-like parametrization of the deceleration parameter q(z) [1], which considers a transition, at redshift zt, from cosmic deceleration to acceleration. In this parametrization the initial, at z gg zt, value of the q-parameter is qi, its final, z=−1, value is qf and the duration of the transition is parametrized by τ. By assuming a flat space geometry we obtain constraints on the free parameters of the model using recent data from type Ia supernovae (SN Ia), baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), cosmic microwave background (CMB) and the Hubble parameter H(z). The use of H(z) data introduces an explicit dependence of the combined likelihood on the present value of the Hubble parameter H(0), allowing us to explore the influence of different priors when marginalizing over this parameter. We also study the importance of the CMB information in the results by considering data from WMAP7, WMAP9 (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe—7 and 9 years) and Planck 2015. We show that the contours and best fit do not depend much on the different CMB data used and that the considered new BAO data is responsible for most of the improvement in the results. Assuming a flat space geometry, qi=1/2 and expressing the present value of the deceleration parameter q(0) as a function of the other three free parameters, we obtain zt=0.67(+0.10)(−)(0.08), τ=0.26(+0.14)(−)(0.10) and q(0)=−0.48(+0.11)(−)(0.13), at 68% of confidence level, with an uniform prior over H(0). If in addition we fix qf=−1, as in flat ΛCDM, DGP and Chaplygin quartessence that are special models described by our parametrization, we get zt=0.66(+0.03)(−)(0.04), τ=0.33(+0.04)(−)(0.04) and q(0)=−0.54(+0.05)(−)(0.07), in excellent agreement with flat ΛCDM for which τ=1/3. We also obtain for flat wCDM, another dark energy model described by our parametrization, the constraint on the equation of state parameter −1.22 < w < −0.78 at more than 99% confidence level.

We present the main characteristics of the Pico del Buitre, at the Sierra de Javalambre, the proposed location for the Javalambre Astrophysical Observatory. The measurements have been obtained from spectrophotometric, photometric, and seeing data obtained with different monitors and instruments on the site. We have also used publicly-accessible meteorological satellite data to determine the total time useful for observations. The night-sky optical spectrum observed in a moonless night shows very little contamination by the typical pollution lines. Their contribution to the sky brightness is ~0.06 mag in B, ~0.09 mag in V and ~0.06 mag in R . In particular, the comparison of the strengths of the sodium artificial and natural lines indicates that the site satisfies the IAU recommendations for a dark site. The zenith-corrected values of the moonless night-sky surface brightness are B = 22.8 mag arcsec^-2, V = 22.1 mag arcsec^-2, R = 21.5 mag arcsec^-2, I = 20.4 mag arcsec^-2, which indicates that the site is very dark. The extinction has been measured for the summer period, with a typical value of 0.22 mag in the -Band, with the best measured value of 0.18 mag in a totally photometric night. The median value of the seeing in the V-band for the last two years (2008-9) is 0.71", with a mode of 0.58". The seeing values present a seasonal pattern, being smaller in summer (~0.69") than in winter time (0.77"). For 68% of the analyzed nights the seeing was better than 0.8" during the entire night. The seeing is found to be stable for rather long periods, in particular for the nights with good seeing values. The typical scale, for nights with the seeing below 0.8", is about 5 hours for variations within 20% of the reference value. The fraction of totally clear nights is ~53%, while the fraction of nights with at least a 30% of the night clear is ~74%.