Redshift inference from the combination of galaxy colours and clustering in a hierarchical Bayesian model - application to realistic N-body simulations

Alex Alarcon, Carles Sánchez, Gary M. Bernstein, Enrique Gaztanãga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photometric galaxy surveys constitute a powerful cosmological probe but rely on the accurate characterization of their redshift distributions using only broad-band imaging, and can be very sensitive to incomplete or biased priors used for redshift calibration. A hierarchical Bayesian model has recently been developed to estimate those from the robust combination of prior information, photometry of single galaxies, and the information contained in the galaxy clustering against a well-characterized tracer population. In this work, we extend the method so that it can be applied to real data, developing some necessary new extensions to it, especially in the treatment of galaxy clustering information, and we test it on realistic simulations. After marginalizing over the mapping between the clustering estimator and the actual density distribution of the sample galaxies, and using prior information from a small patch of the survey, we find the incorporation of clustering information with photo-z's tightens the redshift posteriors and overcomes biases in the prior that mimic those happening in spectroscopic samples. The method presented here uses all the information at hand to reduce prior biases and incompleteness. Even in cases where we artificially bias the spectroscopic sample to induce a shift in mean redshift of Δz̄ ≈ 0.05 the final biases in the posterior are Δz̄ ≲ 0.003. This robustness to flaws in the redshift prior or training samples would constitute a milestone for the control of redshift systematic uncertainties in future weak lensing analyses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2614-2631
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • cosmology: observations
  • dark energy
  • large-scale structure of Universe

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