Accounting for baryonic effects in cosmic shear tomography: Determining a minimal set of nuisance parameters using PCA

Tim Eifler, Elisabeth Krause, Scott Dodelson, Andrew R. Zentner, Andrew P. Hearin, Nickolay Y. Gnedin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Systematic uncertainties that have been subdominant in past large-scale structure (LSS) surveys are likely to exceed statistical uncertainties of current and future LSS data sets, potentially limiting the extraction of cosmological information. Here we present a general framework (Principal Component Analysis - PCA - marginalization) to consistently incorporate systematic effects into a likelihood analysis. This technique naturally accounts for degeneracies between nuisance parameters and can substantially reduce the dimension of the parameter space that needs to be sampled. As a practical application, we apply PCA marginalization to account for baryonic physics as an uncertainty in cosmic shear tomography. Specifically, we use COSMOLIKE to run simulated likelihood analyses on three independent sets of numerical simulations, each covering a wide range of baryonic scenarios differing in cooling, star formation, and feedback mechanisms. We simulate a Stage III (Dark Energy Survey) and Stage IV (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope/Euclid) survey and find a substantial bias in cosmological constraints if baryonic physics is not accounted for. We then show that PCA marginalization (employing at most three to four nuisance parameters) removes this bias. Our study demonstrates that it is possible to obtain robust, precise constraints on the dark energy equation of state even in the presence of large levels of systematic uncertainty in astrophysical processes. We conclude that the PCA marginalization technique is a powerful, general tool for addressing many of the challenges facing the precision cosmology programme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2451-2471
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 11 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmological parameters
  • Cosmology: theory
  • Large-scale structure ofUniverse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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