Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 536A, 85-85 (2011/12-1)
Cosmic shear covariance: the log-normal approximation.
HILBERT S., HARTLAP J. and SCHNEIDER P.
Abstract (from CDS):
Accurate estimates of the errors on the cosmological parameters inferred from cosmic shear surveys require accurate estimates of the covariance of the cosmic shear correlation functions. We seek approximations to the cosmic shear covariance that are as easy to use as the common approximations based on normal (Gaussian) statistics, but yield more accurate covariance matrices and parameter errors. We derive expressions for the cosmic shear covariance under the assumption that the underlying convergence field follows log-normal statistics. We also derive a simplified version of this log-normal approximation by only retaining the most important terms beyond normal statistics. We use numerical simulations of weak lensing to study how well the normal, log-normal, and simplified log-normal approximations as well as empirical corrections to the normal approximation proposed in the literature reproduce shear covariances for cosmic shear surveys. We also investigate the resulting confidence regions for cosmological parameters inferred from such surveys. We find that the normal approximation substantially underestimates the cosmic shear covariances and the inferred parameter confidence regions, in particular for surveys with small fields of view and large galaxy densities, but also for very wide surveys. In contrast, the log-normal approximation yields more realistic covariances and confidence regions, but also requires evaluating slightly more complicated expressions. However, the simplified log-normal approximation, although as simple as the normal approximation, yields confidence regions that are almost as accurate as those obtained from the log-normal approximation. The empirical corrections to the normal approximation do not yield more accurate covariances and confidence regions than the (simplified) log-normal approximation. Moreover, they fail to produce positive-semidefinite data covariance matrices in certain cases, rendering them unusable for parameter estimation. The log-normal or simplified log-normal approximation should be used in favour of the normal approximation for parameter estimation and parameter error forecasts. More generally, any approximation to the cosmic shear covariance should ensure a positive-(semi)definite data covariance matrix.