Date of Original Version

3-10-2015

Type

Article

Rights Management

© 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society

Abstract or Description

Upcoming weak lensing surveys will survey large cosmological volumes to measure the growth of cosmological structure with time and thereby constrain dark energy. One major systematic uncertainty in this process is the calibration of the weak lensing shape distortions, or shears. Most upcoming surveys plan to test several aspects of their shear estimation algorithms using sophisticated image simulations that include realistic galaxy populations based on high-resolution data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). However, existing data sets from the HST cover very small cosmological volumes, so cosmic variance could cause the galaxy populations in them to be atypical. A narrow redshift slice from such surveys could be dominated by a single large overdensity or underdensity. In that case, the morphology–density relation could alter the local galaxy populations and yield an incorrect calibration of shear estimates as a function of redshift. We directly test this scenario using the COSMOS survey, the largest-area HST survey to date, and show how the statistical distributions of galaxy shapes and morphological parameters (e.g. Sérsicn) are influenced by redshift-dependent cosmic variance. The typical variation in rms ellipticity due to environmental effects is 5 per cent (absolute, not relative) for redshift bins of width Δz = 0.05, which could result in uncertain shear calibration at the 1 per cent level. We conclude that the cosmic variance effects are large enough to exceed the systematic error budget of future surveys, but can be mitigated with careful choice of training data set and sufficiently large redshift binning.

DOI

10.1093/mnras/stv520

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Published In

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 449, 4, 3597-3612.