Assessing colour-dependent occupation statistics inferred from galaxy group catalogues

Published in MNRAS, 2015

Recommended citation: Campbell, D., et al. (2015). "Assessing colour-dependent occupation statistics inferred from galaxy group catalogues." MNRAS. 452(1).

We investigate the ability of current implementations of galaxy group finders to recover colour-dependent halo occupation statistics. To test the fidelity of group catalogue inferred statistics, we run three different group finders used in the literature over a mock that includes galaxy colours in a realistic manner. Overall, the resulting mock group catalogues are remarkably similar, and most colour-dependent statistics are recovered with reasonable accuracy. However, it is also clear that certain systematic errors arise as a consequence of correlated errors in group membership determination, central/satellite designation, and halo mass assignment. We introduce a new statistic, the halo transition probability (HTP), which captures the combined impact of all these errors. As a rule of thumb, errors tend to equalize the properties of distinct galaxy populations (i.e. red versus blue galaxies or centrals versus satellites), and to result in inferred occupation statistics that are more accurate for red galaxies than for blue galaxies. A statistic that is particularly poorly recovered from the group catalogues is the red fraction of central galaxies as a function of halo mass. Group finders do a good job in recovering galactic conformity, but also have a tendency to introduce weak conformity when none is present. We conclude that proper inference of colour-dependent statistics from group catalogues is best achieved using forward modelling (i.e. running group finders over mock data) or by implementing a correction scheme based on the HTP, as long as the latter is not too strongly model dependent.

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