A flexible analytic model of cosmic variance in the first billion years
- Author(s): Trapp, AC;
- Furlanetto, Steven R
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa2828
ABSTRACT Cosmic variance is the intrinsic scatter in the number density of galaxies due to fluctuations in the large-scale dark matter density field. In this work, we present a simple analytic model of cosmic variance in the high-redshift Universe (z ∼ 5–15). We assume that galaxies grow according to the evolution of the halo mass function, which we allow to vary with large-scale environment. Our model produces a reasonable match to the observed ultraviolet (UV) luminosity functions in this era by regulating star formation through stellar feedback and assuming that the UV luminosity function is dominated by recent star formation. We find that cosmic variance in the UV luminosity function is dominated by the variance in the underlying dark matter halo population, and not by differences in halo accretion or the specifics of our stellar feedback model. We also find that cosmic variance dominates over Poisson noise for future high-z surveys except for the brightest sources or at very high redshifts (z ≳ 12). We provide a linear approximation of cosmic variance for a variety of redshifts, magnitudes, and survey areas through the public python package galcv. Finally, we introduce a new method for incorporating priors on cosmic variance into estimates of the galaxy luminosity function and demonstrate that it significantly improves constraints on that important observable.