Mapping the stellar age of the Milky Way bulge with the VVV. II. Deep JKs catalogs release based on PSF photometry
Hidalgo, S. L.
Gonzalez, O. A.
Lucas, P. W.
The bulge represents the best compromise between old and massive Galactic component, and as such its study is a valuable opportunity to understand how the bulk of the Milky Way formed and evolved. In addition, being the only bulge in which we can individually resolve stars in all evolutionary sequences, the properties of its stellar content provide crucial insights on the formation of bulges at large. We aim at providing a detailed and comprehensive census of the Milky Way bulge stellar populations by producing deep and accurate photometric catalogs of the inner ~300 sqdeg of the Galaxy. We perform DAOPHOT/ALLFRAME PSF-fitting photometry of multi-epochs J and Ks images provided by the VVV survey to obtain deep photometric catalogs. Artificial star experiments have been conducted on all images to properly assess the completeness and the accuracy of the photometric measurements. We present a photometric database containing nearly 600 million stars across the bulge area surveyed by the VVV. Through the comparison of derived color-magnitude diagrams of selected fields representative of different levels of extinction and crowding, we show the quality, completeness and depth of the new catalogs. With the exception of the fields located along the plane, this new photometry samples stars down to ~1-2 mag below the MS-TO with unprecedented accuracy. To demonstrate the tremendous potential inherent to this new dataset, we give few examples of possible applications such as: i) star counts studies through the dataset completeness map; ii) surface brightness map; and iii) cross-correlation with Gaia DR2. The database presented here represents an invaluable collection for the whole community, and we encourage its exploitation. The photometric catalogs including completeness information are publicly available through the ESO Science Archive.