Counts-in-cylinders in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with comparisons to N-body simulations

Heather D. Berrier, Elizabeth J. Barton, Joel C. Berrier, James S. Bullock, Andrew R. Zentner, Risa H. Wechsler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environmental statistics provide a necessary means of comparing the properties of galaxies in different environments, and a vital test of models of galaxy formation within the prevailing hierarchical cosmological model. We explore counts-in-cylinders, a common statistic defined as the number of companions of a particular galaxy found within a given projected radius and redshift interval. Galaxy distributions with the same two-point correlation functions do not necessarily have the same companion count distributions. We use this statistic to examine the environments of galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 4 (SDSS DR4). We also make preliminary comparisons to four models for the spatial distributions of galaxies, based on N-body simulations and data from SDSS DR4, to study the utility of the counts-in-cylinders statistic. There is a very large scatter between the number of companions a galaxy has and the mass of its parent dark matter halo and the halo occupation, limiting the utility of this statistic for certain kinds of environmental studies. We also show that prevalent empirical models of galaxy clustering, that match observed two-and three-point clustering statistics well, fail to reproduce some aspects of the observed distribution of counts-in-cylinders on 1, 3, and 6 h-1 Mpc scales. All models that we explore underpredict the fraction of galaxies with few or no companions in 3 and 6 h-1 Mpc cylinders. Roughly 7% of galaxies in the real universe are significantly more isolated within a 6 h-1 Mpc cylinder than the galaxies in any of the models we use. Simple phenomenological models that map galaxies to dark matter halos fail to reproduce high-order clustering statistics in low-density environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxies: statistics
  • Large-scale structure of universe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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