Testing the statistical isotropy of the universe using radio survey data
Baloyi, Mathobela Albert
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The Cosmological Principle forms part of one of the most fundamental hypotheses of modern Cosmology. So it is very important to assess whether it holds true using observational data, or whether it consists of a mathematical simplification. We probe the statistical isotropy of the Universe using the existing radio continuum data, by means of a local variance estimator. In order to investigate this, we analyse the number count variance of the radio catalog by looking at patches of approximately 10, 15, 20 & 25 degrees in radii, and thus comparing it to mock catalogs which reproduce the matter density power spectrum, as well as the same sky coverage of the real data. We establish criteria for accepting patches that have more than 90%, 70% & 50% of their pixels not masked. We make use of the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS), whose operational frequency is 1.4 GHz. We perform statistical tests for detecting possible departures from statistical isotropy using galaxy number counts with flux limits of 20 < SNVSS < 1000 mJy. We also compare the real data to the mock catalogs of the radio data in order to assess the statistical significance of our results. We use the local variance estimator for testing the statistical isotropy of our data sample. We find that the statistical properties of our sample are in reasonable agreement with the standard cosmological model. The mean of the distribution for the data falls well within the 95% confidence interval of the average of the simulated mocks. For all the radii and acceptance criteria for the patches, we found no significant deviations beyond those allowed by the standard model. As expected there were no large discrepancies between our mocks and the data. The results are consistent with statistical isotropy.