Spectroscopic target selection for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: The luminous red galaxy sample

Daniel J. Eisenstein, James Annis, James E. Gunn, Alexander S. Szalay, Andrew J. Connolly, R. C. Nichol, Neta A. Bahcall, Mariangela Bernardi, Scott Burles, Francisco J. Castander, Masataka Fukugita, David W. Hogg, Željko Ivezić, G. R. Knapp, Robert H. Lupton, Vijay Narayanan, Marc Postman, Daniel E. Reichart, Michael Richmond, Donald P. SchneiderDavid J. Schlegel, Michael A. Strauss, Mark SubbaRao, Douglas L. Tucker, Daniel Vanden Berk, Michael S. Vogeley, David H. Weinberg, Brian Yanny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

855 Scopus citations


We describe the target selection and resulting properties of a spectroscopic sample of luminous red galaxies (LRGs) from the imaging data of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). These galaxies are selected on the basis of color and magnitude to yield a sample of luminous intrinsically red galaxies that extends fainter and farther than the main flux-limited portion of the SDSS galaxy spectroscopic sample. The sample is designed to impose a passively evolving luminosity and rest-frame color cut to a redshift of 0.38. Additional, yet more luminous red galaxies are included to a redshift of ∼0.5. Approximately 12 of these galaxies per square degree are targeted for spectroscopy, so the sample will number over 100,000 with the full survey. SDSS commissioning data indicate that the algorithm efficiently selects luminous (M*g ≈ - 21.4) red galaxies, that the spectroscopic success rate is very high, and that the resulting set of galaxies is approximately volume limited out to z = 0.38. When the SDSS is complete, the LRG spectroscopic sample will fill over 1 h-3 Gpc3 with an approximately homogeneous population of galaxies and will therefore be well suited to studies of large-scale structure and clusters out to z = 0.5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2267-2280
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Large-scale structure of universe
  • Surveys


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