Department of Physics Papers

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Journal Article

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Proposed cosmological surveys will make use of photometric redshifts of galaxies that are significantly fainter than any complete spectroscopic redshift surveys that exist to train the photo-z methods. We investigate the photo-z biases that result from known differences between the faint and bright populations: a rise in active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity toward higher redshift, and a metallicity difference between intrinsically luminous and faint early-type galaxies. We find that even very small mismatches between the mean photometric target and the training set can induce photo-z biases large enough to corrupt derived cosmological parameters significantly. Our results suggest that a metallicity shift of ∼0.003 dex in an old population, or contamination of any galaxy spectrum with ∼0.2% AGN flux, is sufficient to induce a 10-3 bias in photo-z. These results highlight the danger in extrapolating the behavior of bright galaxies to a fainter population, and the desirability of a spectroscopic training set that spans all of the characteristics of the photo-z targets, i.e., extending to the 25th mag or fainter galaxies that will be used in future surveys.


MacDonald, C. J., & Bernstein, G. (2010). Photometric redshift biases from galaxy evolution. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 122(890), 485-489. doi: 10.1086/651702


data analysis and techniques



Date Posted: 29 August 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.