DEep Near-Infrared Survey of the southern sky

DENIS is a project to survey the all-southern sky simultaneously in three wavelength bands (Gunn-i 0.82 µm; J, 1.25 µm; and Ks, 2.15 µm) with limiting magnitudes 18.5, 16.5 and 14.0, respectively.

The observations are performed with the 1m-ESO telescope at La Silla (Chile). The DENIS instrument is made up of a 3-channel camera built of commercially available detector arrays by the Observatoire de Paris and with major contributions from other European Institutes, notably: the IAS in Frascati, the Observatoire de Grenoble, the University of Innsbruck, the Observatoire de Lyon, and the IAC in Tenerife.

The survey is carried out by observing strips of 30° in declination and 12 arcminutes in Right Ascension with an overlap of 2 arcminutes between consecutive strips. The observations started at the end of 1995 and have been completed on Sept. 9, 2001. The data are reduced in two consecutive steps, the image processing and source extraction, which are performed at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris. The position of a general extracted point source is provided with an accuracy better than 1 arcsec and its magnitude to better than 0.1 mag. The data will be made publicly available as soon as possible after completing the data reduction. The Centre de Données Astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) is implementing the final databases and will eventually provide access of the processed and calibrated data to the worldwide community.

It is expected that DENIS data will be of great help in determining projects for the VLT and future space missions.

The principal investigator of the DENIS project is Nicolas Epchtein (Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur); scientists and engineers from seven European countries and from Brazil are involved.

The scientific exploitation of the already existing data is carried out by several dedicated groups. These special programs allow a continuous monitoring of the quality of the survey data and thus give feedback to the project.