First light and reionization epoch simulations (FLARES) X: environmental galaxy bias and survey variance at high redshift

P. A. Thomas, C. C. Lovell, M. G. A. Maltz, A. P. Vijayan, S. M. Wilkins, D. Irodotou, W. J. Roper, L. Seeyave

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Upcoming deep galaxy surveys with JWST will probe galaxy evolution during the epoch of reionization (EoR, 5 ≤ z ≤ 10) over relatively compact areas (e.g. ∼300 arcmin2 for the JADES GTO survey). It is therefore imperative that we understand the degree of survey variance to evaluate how representative the galaxy populations in these studies will be. We use the First Light And Reionization Epoch Simulations (FLARES) to measure the galaxy bias of various tracers over an unprecedentedly large range in overdensity for a hydrodynamic simulation, and use these relations to assess the impact of bias and clustering on survey variance in the EoR. Star formation is highly biased relative to the underlying dark matter distribution, with the mean ratio of the stellar to dark matter density varying by a factor of 100 between regions of low and high matter overdensity (smoothed on a scale of 14 h−1 cMpc). This is reflected in the galaxy distribution – the most massive galaxies are found solely in regions of high overdensity. As a consequence of the above, galaxies in the EoR are highly clustered, which can lead to a large variance in survey number counts. For mean number counts N ≲ 100 (1000), in a unit redshift slice of angular area 300 arcmin2 (1.4 deg2), the 2σ range in N is roughly a factor of four (two). We present relations between the expected variance and survey area for different survey geometries; these relations will be of use to observers wishing to understand the impact of survey variance on their results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-59
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/K00042X/1
  • ST/P002293/1
  • ST/R002371/1
  • ST/S002502/1
  • ST/R000832/1

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