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Testing the tidal alignment model of galaxy intrinsic alignment

Testing the tidal alignment model of galaxy intrinsic alignment
Blazek J.McQuinn M.Seljak U.
Ewha Authors
Uros Seljak
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
1475-7516JCR Link
vol. 2011, no. 5
Weak gravitational lensing has become a powerful probe of large-scale structure and cosmological parameters. Precision weak lensing measurements require an understanding of the intrinsic alignment of galaxy ellipticities, which can in turn inform models of galaxy formation. It is hypothesized that elliptical galaxies align with the background tidal field and that this alignment mechanism dominates the correlation between ellipticities on cosmological scales (in the absence of lensing). We use recent large-scale structure measurements from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to test this picture with several statistics: (1) the correlation between ellipticity and galaxy overdensity, wg+; (2) the intrinsic alignment auto-correlation functions; (3) the correlation functions of curl-free, E, and divergence-free, B, modes, the latter of which is zero in the linear tidal alignment theory; (4) the alignment correlation function, wg(rp,θ), a recently developed statistic that generalizes the galaxy correlation function to account for the angle between the galaxy separation vector and the principle axis of ellipticity. We show that recent measurements are largely consistent with the tidal alignment model and discuss dependence on galaxy luminosity. In addition, we show that at linear order the tidal alignment model predicts that the angular dependence of wg(rp,θ) is simply w g+(rp)cos (2θ) and that this dependence is consistent with recent measurements. We also study how stochastic nonlinear contributions to galaxy ellipticity impact these statistics. We find that a significant fraction of the observed LRG ellipticity can be explained by alignment with the tidal field on scales 10 \hMpc. These considerations are relevant to galaxy formation and evolution. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd and SISSA.
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