VISIONS: The VISTA Star Formation Atlas. I. Survey overview

Stefan Meingast, João Alves, Hervé Bouy, Monika G. Petr-Gotzens, Verena Fürnkranz, Josefa E. Großschedl, David Hernandez, Alena Rottensteiner, Magda Arnaboldi, Joana Ascenso, Amelia Bayo, Erik Brändli, Anthony G. A. Brown, Jan Forbrich, Alyssa Goodman, Alvaro Hacar, Birgit Hasenberger, Rainer Köhler, Karolina Kubiak, Michael KuhnCharles Lada, Kieran Leschinski, Marco Lombardi, Diego Mardones, Laura Mascetti, Núria Miret-Roig, André Moitinho, Koraljka Mužic, Martin Piecka, Laura Posch, Timo Prusti, Karla Peña Ramírez, Ronny Ramlau, Sebastian Ratzenböck, Germano Sacco, Cameren Swiggum, Paula Stella Teixeira, Vanessa Urban, Eleonora Zari, Catherine Zucker

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


VISIONS is an ESO public survey of five nearby (d < 500 pc) star-forming molecular cloud complexes that are canonically associated with the constellations of Chamaeleon, Corona Australis, Lupus, Ophiuchus, and Orion. The survey was carried out with the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), using the VISTA Infrared Camera (VIRCAM), and collected data in the near-infrared passbands J (1.25 μm), H (1.65 μm), and KS (2.15 μm). With a total on-sky exposure time of 49.4h VISIONS covers an area of 650 deg2, it is designed to build an infrared legacy archive with a structure and content similar to the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) for the screened star-forming regions. Taking place between April 2017 and March 2022, the observations yielded approximately 1.15 million images, which comprise 19 TB of raw data. The observations undertaken within the survey are grouped into three different subsurveys. First, the wide subsurvey comprises shallow, large-scale observations and it has revisited the star-forming complexes six times over the course of its execution. Second, the deep subsurvey of dedicated high-sensitivity observations has collected data on areas with the largest amounts of dust extinction. Third, the control subsurvey includes observations of areas of low-to-negligible dust extinction. Using this strategy, the VISIONS observation program offers multi-epoch position measurements, with the ability to access deeply embedded objects, and it provides a baseline for statistical comparisons and sample completeness - all at the same time. In particular, VISIONS is designed to measure the proper motions of point sources, with a precision of 1 mas yr-1 or better, when complemented with data from the VISTA Hemisphere Survey (VHS). In this way, VISIONS can provide proper motions of complete ensembles of embedded and low-mass objects, including sources inaccessible to the optical ESA Gaia mission. VISIONS will enable the community to address a variety of research topics from a more informed perspective, including the 3D distribution and motion of embedded stars and the nearby interstellar medium, the identification and characterization of young stellar objects, the formation and evolution of embedded stellar clusters and their initial mass function, as well as the characteristics of interstellar dust and the reddening law.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA58
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 103003 Astronomy


  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
  • Surveys
  • Stars: pre-main sequence
  • Stars: kinematics and dynamics
  • Stars: formation
  • ISM: clouds


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