Sloan Digital Sky Survey III photometric quasar clustering: Probing the initial conditions of the Universe

Shirley Ho, Nishant Agarwal, Adam D. Myers, Richard Lyons, Ashley Disbrow, Hee Jong Seo, Ashley Ross, Christopher Hirata, Nikhil Padmanabhan, Ross O'Connell, Eric Huff, David Schlegel, Anže Slosar, David Weinberg, Michael Strauss, Nicholas P. Ross, Donald P. Schneider, Neta Bahcall, J. Brinkmann, Nathalie Palanque-DelabrouilleChristophe Yèche

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The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has surveyed 14,555 square degrees of the sky, and delivered over a trillion pixels of imaging data. We present the large-scale clustering of 1.6 million quasars between z=0.5 and z=2.5 that have been classified from this imaging, representing the highest density of quasars ever studied for clustering measurements. This data set spans ∼ 11,000 square degrees and probes a volume of 80 h-3 Gpc3. In principle, such a large volume and medium density of tracers should facilitate high-precision cosmological constraints. We measure the angular clustering of photometrically classified quasars using an optimal quadratic estimator in four redshift slices with an accuracy of ∼ 25% over a bin width of δ∼ 10-15 on scales corresponding to matter-radiation equality and larger (ℓ ∼ 2-30). Observational systematics can strongly bias clustering measurements on large scales, which can mimic cosmologically relevant signals such as deviations from Gaussianity in the spectrum of primordial perturbations. We account for systematics by employing a new method recently proposed by Agarwal et al. (2014) to the clustering of photometrically classified quasars. We carefully apply our methodology to mitigate known observational systematics and further remove angular bins that are contaminated by unknown systematics. Combining quasar data with the photometric luminous red galaxy (LRG) sample of Ross et al. (2011) and Ho et al. (2012), and marginalizing over all bias and shot noise-like parameters, we obtain a constraint on local primordial non-Gaussianity of f= -113+154(1σ error). We next assume that the bias of quasar and galaxy distributions can be obtained independently from quasar/galaxy-CMB lensing cross-correlation measurements (such as those in Sherwin et al. (2013)). This can be facilitated by spectroscopic observations of the sources, enabling the redshift distribution to be completely determined, and allowing precise estimates of the bias parameters. In this paper, if the bias and shot noise parameters are fixed to their known values (which we model by fixing them to their best-fit Gaussian values), we find that the error bar reduces to 1σ 65. We expect this error bar to reduce further by at least another factor of five if the data is free of any observational systematics. We therefore emphasize that in order to make best use of large scale structure data we need an accurate modeling of known systematics, a method to mitigate unknown systematics, and additionally independent theoretical models or observations to probe the bias of dark matter halos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number040
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 22 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


  • cosmological parameters from LSS
  • ination
  • power spectrum
  • redshift surveys


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