Three-point correlation functions of SDSS galaxies: Luminosity and color dependence in redshift and projected space

Cameron K. McBride, Andrew J. Connolly, Jeffrey P. Gardner, Ryan Scranton, Jeffrey A. Newman, Román Scoccimarro, Idit Zehavi, Donald P. Schneider

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The three-point correlation function (3PCF) provides an important view into the clustering of galaxies that is not available to its lower order cousin, the two-point correlation function (2PCF). Higher order statistics, such as the 3PCF, are necessary to probe the non-Gaussian structure and shape information expected in these distributions. We measure the clustering of spectroscopic galaxies in the Main Galaxy Sample of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, focusing on the shape or configuration dependence of the reduced 3PCF in both redshift and projected space. This work constitutes the largest number of galaxies ever used to investigate the reduced 3PCF, using over 220,000 galaxies in three volume-limited samples. We find significant configuration dependence of the reduced 3PCF at 3-27 h-1 Mpc, in agreement with ΛCDM predictions and in disagreement with the hierarchical ansatz. Below 6 h -1 Mpc, the redshift space reduced 3PCF shows a smaller amplitude and weak configuration dependence in comparison with projected measurements suggesting that redshift distortions, and not galaxy bias, can make the reduced 3PCF appear consistent with the hierarchical ansatz. The reduced 3PCF shows a weaker dependence on luminosity than the 2PCF, with no significant dependence on scales above 9 h-1 Mpc. On scales less than 9 h-1 Mpc, the reduced 3PCF appears more affected by galaxy color than luminosity. We demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of the 3PCF to systematic effects such as sky completeness and binning scheme, along with the difficulty of resolving the errors. Some comparable analyses make assumptions that do not consistently account for these effects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


    • Cosmology: observations
    • Galaxies: statistics
    • Large-scale structure of universe
    • Surveys

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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