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Beware of fake ν 's: The effect of massive neutrinos on the nonlinear evolution of cosmic structure


Massive neutrinos suppress the growth of cosmic structure on small, nonlinear scales. It is thus often proposed that using statistics beyond the power spectrum can tighten constraints on the neutrino mass by extracting additional information from these nonlinear scales. We study the information content regarding neutrino mass at the field level, quantifying how much of this information arises from the difference in nonlinear evolution between a cosmology with one fluid [cold dark matter (CDM)] and two fluids (CDM+neutrinos). We do so by running two N-body simulations, one with and one without massive neutrinos, both with the same phases, and matching their linear power spectrum at a given low redshift. This effectively isolates the information encoded in the linear initial conditions from the nonlinear cosmic evolution. We demonstrate that, for k≲1 h/Mpc, and for a single redshift, there is negligible difference in the real-space CDM field between the two simulations. This suggests that all the information regarding neutrino mass is in the linear power spectrum set by the initial conditions. Thus, any probe based on the CDM field alone will have negligible constraining power beyond that which exists at the linear level over the same range of scales. Consequently, any probe based on the halo field will contain little information beyond the linear power. We find similar results for the matter field responsible for weak lensing. We also demonstrate that there may be much information beyond the power spectrum in the 3D matter field; however, this is not observable in modern surveys via dark matter halos or weak lensing. Finally, we show that there is additional information to be found in redshift space.

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