Inferring the photometric and size evolution of galaxies from image simulations
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, UMR 7095 et Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 6, 98bis bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
Received: 9 February 2017
Accepted: 15 April 2017
Context. Current constraints on models of galaxy evolution rely on morphometric catalogs extracted from multi-band photometric surveys. However, these catalogs are altered by selection effects that are difficult to model, that correlate in non trivial ways, and that can lead to contradictory predictions if not taken into account carefully.
Aims. To address this issue, we have developed a new approach combining parametric Bayesian indirect likelihood (pBIL) techniques and empirical modeling with realistic image simulations that reproduce a large fraction of these selection effects. This allows us to perform a direct comparison between observed and simulated images and to infer robust constraints on model parameters.
Methods. We use a semi-empirical forward model to generate a distribution of mock galaxies from a set of physical parameters. These galaxies are passed through an image simulator reproducing the instrumental characteristics of any survey and are then extracted in the same way as the observed data. The discrepancy between the simulated and observed data is quantified, and minimized with a custom sampling process based on adaptive Markov chain Monte Carlo methods.
Results. Using synthetic data matching most of the properties of a Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey Deep field, we demonstrate the robustness and internal consistency of our approach by inferring the parameters governing the size and luminosity functions and their evolutions for different realistic populations of galaxies. We also compare the results of our approach with those obtained from the classical spectral energy distribution fitting and photometric redshift approach.
Conclusions. Our pipeline infers efficiently the luminosity and size distribution and evolution parameters with a very limited number of observables (three photometric bands). When compared to SED fitting based on the same set of observables, our method yields results that are more accurate and free from systematic biases.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: bulges / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: luminosity function, mass function / galaxies: statistics / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2017