Detecting effects of filaments on galaxy properties in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III

Yen Chi Chen, Shirley Ho, Rachel Mandelbaum, Neta A. Bahcall, Joel R. Brownstein, Peter E. Freeman, Christopher R. Genovese, Donald P. Schneider, Larry Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


We study the effects of filaments on galaxy properties in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 12 using filaments from the 'Cosmic Web Reconstruction' catalogue, a publicly available filament catalogue for SDSS. Since filaments are tracers of medium- to high-density regions, we expect that galaxy properties associated with the environment are dependent on the distance to the nearest filament. Our analysis demonstrates that a red galaxy or a high-mass galaxy tends to reside closer to filaments than a blue or low-mass galaxy. After adjusting the effect from stellar mass, on average, early-forming galaxies or large galaxies have a shorter distance to filaments than late-forming galaxies or small galaxies. For the main galaxy sample, all signals are very significant (>6σ). For the LOWZ and CMASS sample, the stellar mass and size are significant (>2σ). The filament effects we observe persist until z = 0.7 (the edge of the CMASS sample). Comparing our results to those using the galaxy distances from redMaPPer galaxy clusters as a reference, we find a similar result between filaments and clusters. Moreover, we find that the effect of clusters on the stellar mass of nearby galaxies depends on the galaxy's filamentary environment. Our findings illustrate the strong correlation of galaxy properties with proximity to density ridges, strongly supporting the claim that density ridges are good tracers of filaments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1880-1893
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: general
  • Large-scale structure of Universe


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