Chasing the peak: optimal statistics for weak shear analyses
Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Received: 20 June 2017
Accepted: 9 October 2017
Context. Weak gravitational lensing analyses are fundamentally limited by the intrinsic distribution of galaxy shapes. It is well known that this distribution of galaxy ellipticity is non-Gaussian, and the traditional estimation methods, explicitly or implicitly assuming Gaussianity, are not necessarily optimal.
Aims. We aim to explore alternative statistics for samples of ellipticity measurements. An optimal estimator needs to be asymptotically unbiased, efficient, and robust in retaining these properties for various possible sample distributions. We take the non-linear mapping of gravitational shear and the effect of noise into account. We then discuss how the distribution of individual galaxy shapes in the observed field of view can be modeled by fitting Fourier modes to the shear pattern directly. This allows scientific analyses using statistical information of the whole field of view, instead of locally sparse and poorly constrained estimates.
Methods. We simulated samples of galaxy ellipticities, using both theoretical distributions and data for ellipticities and noise. We determined the possible bias Δe, the efficiency η and the robustness of the least absolute deviations, the biweight, and the convex hull peeling (CHP) estimators, compared to the canonical weighted mean. Using these statistics for regression, we have shown the applicability of direct Fourier mode fitting.
Results. We find an improved performance of all estimators, when iteratively reducing the residuals after de-shearing the ellipticity samples by the estimated shear, which removes the asymmetry in the ellipticity distributions. We show that these estimators are then unbiased in the absence of noise, and decrease noise bias by more than ~30%. Our results show that the CHP estimator distribution is skewed, but still centered around the underlying shear, and its bias least affected by noise. We find the least absolute deviations estimator to be the most efficient estimator in almost all cases, except in the Gaussian case, where it’s still competitive (0.83 < η < 5.1) and therefore robust. These results hold when fitting Fourier modes, where amplitudes of variation in ellipticity are determined to the order of 10-3.
Conclusions. The peak of the ellipticity distribution is a direct tracer of the underlying shear and unaffected by noise, and we have shown that estimators that are sensitive to a central cusp perform more efficiently, potentially reducing uncertainties by more than 50% and significantly decreasing noise bias. These results become increasingly important, as survey sizes increase and systematic issues in shape measurements decrease.
Key words: gravitational lensing: weak / methods: data analysis / dark matter / large-scale structure of Universe / cosmological parameters / methods: statistical
© ESO, 2018