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[1011.2729] Have Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations in the galaxy distribution really been measured?
Authors:Anna Cabre, Enrique Gaztanaga
Abstract:Recent publications claim that there is no convincing evidence for measurements of the baryonic acoustic (BAO) feature in galaxy samples using either monopole or radial information. Different claims seem contradictory: data is either not consistent with the BAO model or data is consistent with both the BAO model and featureless models without BAO. We investigate this point with a set of 216 realistic mock galaxy catalogs extracted from MICE7680, one of the largest volume dark matter simulation run to date, with a volume of 1300 cubical gigaparsecs. Our mocks cover similar volume, densities and bias as the real galaxies and provide 216 realizations of the Lambda or w=-1 Cold Dark Matter (wCDM) BAO model. We find that only 20% of the mocks show a statistically significant (3 sigma) preference for the true (input) wCDM BAO model as compared to a featureless (non-physical) model without BAO. Thus the volume of current galaxy samples is not yet large enough to claim that the BAO feature has been detected. Does this mean that we can not locate the BAO position? Using a simple (non optimal) algorithm we show that in 50% (100%) of the mocks we can find the BAO position within 5% (20%) of the true value. These two findings are not in contradiction: the former is about model selection, the later is about parameter fitting within a model. We conclude that current monopole and radial BAO measurements can be used as standard rulers if we assume wCDM type of models.
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Syksy Rasanen

Joined: 02 Mar 2005
Posts: 127
Affiliation: University of Helsinki

PostPosted: December 10 2010  Reply with quote

There is a claim by Gaztañaga et al in 0807.3551 to have detected the radial mode of the BAO signal, and in 0808.1921 the signal was used it to put constraints on cosmological parameters. This would be important, because the radial signal provides a measurement of H(z) which is independent of distance measurements, making it possible to test the FRW metric (see 0712.3457).

This detection has been criticised on the grounds that the expected signal is much smaller, see

Kazin et al analysed the radial signal in 1004.2244. They found that although there is a clustering signal in the data, it is not possible to distinguish the model with BAO from a model without BAO with statistical significance. They concluded that therefore it cannot be concluded that the clustering feature would be due to the radial BAO.

Now Cabré and Gaztañaga return to the topic. They agree that the models with and without the radial BAO signal cannot be distinguished by the current data. However, they find that the same is true for the BAO monopole signal: there is no detection of the BAO. (See also 0903.0950, where it is also argued that the BAO have not been detected.) Nevertheless, they argue that if you assume that the features seen in the data are the BAO and not noise, you can still get good parameter constraints.

I would compare this to seeing a peak in particle physics experiments. If you assume that the peak corresponds to a real particle, then you may be able to determine the mass very accurately, if the peak is very sharp. However, this says nothing about the probability that the peak may be just noise. However, I would somehow think that the error bars should include the possibility that the feature is noise. As noted, this holds true also for the usual BAO analysis.
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