Experimental cosmic statistics - II. Distribution

István Szapudi, Stéphane Colombi, Adrian Jenkins, Jörg Colberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Colombi et al. (Paper I) investigated the counts-in-cells statistics and their respective errors in the τCDM Virgo Hubble Volume simulation. This extremely large N-body experiment also allows a numerical investigation of the cosmic distribution function, Y(Ã), itself for the first time. For a statistic A, Y(Ã) is the probability density of measuring the value à in a finite galaxy catalogue. Y was evaluated for the distribution of counts-in-cells, PN, the factorial moments, Fk, and the cumulants, ξ̄ and SNs, using the same subsamples as Paper I. While Paper I concentrated on the first two moments of Y, i.e. the mean, the cosmic error and the cross-correlations, here the function Y is studied in its full generality, including a preliminary analysis of joint distributions Y(Ã, B̃). The most significant, and reassuring result for the analyses of future galaxy data is that the cosmic distribution function is nearly Gaussian provided its variance is small. A good practical criterion for the relative cosmic error is that ΔA/A ≲ 0.2. This means that for accurate measurements, the theory of the cosmic errors, presented by Szapudi & Colombi and Szapudi, Colombi & Bernardeau, and confirmed empirically by Paper I, is sufficient for a full statistical description and thus for a maximum likelihood rating of models. As the cosmic error increases, the cosmic distribution function Y becomes increasingly skewed and is well described by a generalization of the lognormal distribution. The cosmic skewness is introduced as an additional free parameter. The deviation from Gaussianity of Y(F̃k) and Y(S̃N) increases with order k, N and similarly for Y(P̃N) when N is far from the maximum of PN, or when the scale approaches the size of the catalogue. For our particular experiment, Y(F̃k) and Y(ξ≃) are well approximated with the standard lognormal distribution, as evidenced by both the distribution itself and the comparison of the measured skewness with that of the lognormal distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-733
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 21 2000



  • Galaxies: Clusters: General
  • Large-scale structure of Universe
  • Methods: Numerical
  • Methods: Statistical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this