A Caltech Library Service

Systematic Effects in Large-Scale Angular Power Spectra of Photometric Quasars and Implications for Constraining Primordial Non-Gaussianity

Pullen, Anthony R. and Hirata, Christopher M. (2013) Systematic Effects in Large-Scale Angular Power Spectra of Photometric Quasars and Implications for Constraining Primordial Non-Gaussianity. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 125 (928). pp. 705-718. ISSN 0004-6280.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Primordial non-Gaussianity of local type is predicted to lead to enhanced halo clustering on very large scales. Photometric quasars, which can be seen from cosmological redshifts z > 2 even in wide-shallow optical surveys, are promising tracers for constraining non-Gaussianity using this effect. However, large-scale systematics can also mimic this signature of non-Gaussianity. In order to assess the contribution of systematic effects, we cross-correlate overdensity maps of photometric quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 6 (DR6) in different redshift ranges. We find that the maps are significantly correlated on large scales, even though we expect the angular distributions of quasars at different redshifts to be uncorrelated. This implies that the quasar maps are contaminated with systematic errors. We investigate the use of external templates that provide information on the spatial dependence of potential systematic errors to reduce the level of spurious clustering in the quasar data. We find that templates associated with stellar density, the stellar color locus, airmass, and seeing are major contaminants of the quasar maps, with seeing having the largest effect. Using template projection, we are able to decrease the significance of the cross-correlation measurement on the largest scales from 9.2σ to 5.4σ. Although this is an improvement, the remaining cross-correlation suggests the contamination in this quasar sample is too great to allow a competitive constraint on f_NL by correlations internal to this sample. The SDSS quasar catalog exhibits spurious number density fluctuations of approximately 2% rms, and we need a contamination level less than 1% (0.6%) in order to measure values of f_NL less than 100 (10). Properly dealing with these systematics will be paramount for future large scale structure surveys that seek to constrain non-Gaussianity.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Hirata, Christopher M.0000-0002-2951-4932
Alternate Title:Systematic effects in large-scale angular power spectra of photometric quasars and implications for constraining primordial nongaussianity
Additional Information:© 2013 The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2013 January 03; accepted 2013 May 01; published 2013 May 31. We thank G. Richards, S. Ho, and O. Doré for useful discussions and comments. AP was supported during part of this research by DOE DE-FG03-92-ER40701, NASA NNG05GF69G, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and a NASA Einstein Probe mission study grant, “The Experimental Probe of Inflationary Cosmology.” AP is currently supported by an appointment to the NASA Postdoctoral Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities through a contract with NASA. CH is supported by the US Department of Energy under contract DE-FG03-02-ER40701, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Funding for the SDSS and SDSS-II has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.8 The SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions. The Participating Institutions are the American Museum of Natural History, Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, University of Basel, University of Cambridge, Case Western Reserve University, University of Chicago, Drexel University, Fermilab, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, the Korean Scientist Group, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (LAMOST), Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State University, Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the United States Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington.
Group:Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FG03-92-ER40701
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei, Astrophysical Data, Data Analysis and Techniques
Issue or Number:928
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130812-092104251
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Systematic Effects in Large-Scale Angular Power Spectra of Photometric Quasars and Implications for Constraining Primordial Non-Gaussianity Anthony R. Pullen and Christopher M. Hirata Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific , Vol. 125, No. 928 (June 2013), pp. 705-718 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Article DOI: 10.1086/671189 Article Stable URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39861
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:13 Aug 2013 14:27
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 05:11

Repository Staff Only: item control page