Abstract:
We estimate J-point galaxy averaged correlation functions $\wbar_J(\theta)$ for $J=2,...,9$, in a sample of the APM Galaxy Survey with more than $1.3 \times 10^6$ galaxies and a depth $ \calD \sim 400 \Mpc$. The hierarchical amplitudes $s_J=\wbar_J/\wbar_2^{J-1}$ are roughly constant, up to $J=9$, between $0.5 \Mpc$ and $2 \Mpc$ and decrease slowly for larger scales. At scales larger than $7 \Mpc$ we find strong similarities between the statistical properties of the galaxy fluctuations and the theoretical properties of matter fluctuations evolving under the influence of gravity in an expanding universe on assumption that the initial fluctuations are small and Gaussian. This is most easily explained if at large scales there is no significant biasing between matter and galaxy fluctuations. The comparison of the skewness in the CfA and SSRS catalogues with comparable sub-samples of the APM indicates that the volume of a ``fair sample'' has to be much larger that the one in the combined CfA/SSRS catalogues.

Abstract:
Is gravitational growth responsible for the observed large scale structure in the universe? Do we need non-gaussian initial conditions or non-gravitational physics to explain the large scale features traced by galaxy surveys? I will briefly revise the basic ideas of non-linear perturbation theory (PT) as a tool to understand structure formation, in particular through the study of higher order statistics, like the skewness and the 3-point function. Contrary to what happens with the second order statistics (the variance or power-spectrum), this test of gravitational instability is independent of the overall amplitude of fluctuations and of cosmic evolution, so that it does not require comparing the clustering at different redshifts. Predictions from weakly non-linear PT have been compared with observations to place constraints on our assumptions about structure formation, the initial conditions and how galaxies trace the mass.

Abstract:
We compare the large scale galaxy clustering between the North and South SDSS early data release (EDR) and also with the clustering in the APM Galaxy Survey. The three samples are independent and cover an area of 150, 230 and 4300 square degrees respectively. We combine SDSS data in different ways to approach the APM selection. Given the good photometric calibration of the SDSS data and the very good match of its North and South number counts, we combine them in a single sample. The joint clustering is compared with equivalent subsamples in the APM. The final sampling errors are small enough to provide an independent test for some of the results in the APM. We find evidence for an inflection in the shape of the 2-point function in the SDSS which is very similar to what is found in the APM. This feature has been interpreted as evidence for non-linear gravitational growth. By studying higher order correlations, we can also confirm good agreement with the hypothesis of Gaussian initial conditions (and small biasing) for the structure traced by the large scale SDSS galaxy distribution.

Abstract:
We report a detection of galaxy-QSO cross-correlation w_GQ in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Early Data Release (EDR) over 0.2-30 arc-minute scales. We cross-correlate galaxy samples of different mean depths r'=19-22 (z_G =0.15-0.35) with the main QSO population (i'<19.1) at mean z_Q=1.6. We find significant positive correlation in all cases except for the faintest QSOs, as expected if the signal were due to weak lensing magnification. The amplitude of the signal on arc-minute scales is about 20%. This is a few times larger than currently expected from weak lensing in LCDM but confirms, at a higher significance, previous measurements by several groups. When compared to the galaxy-galaxy correlation w_GG, a weak lensing interpretation indicates a strong and steep non-linear amplitude for the underlaying matter fluctuations: sigma=400 on scales of 0.2 Mpc/h, in contradiction with non-linear modeling of LCDM fluctuations. We also detect a normalized skewness (galaxy-galaxy-QSO correlation) of S_3=21 +/-6 at z=0.15 (S_3= 14 +/- 4 at z=0.35), which several sigma low, as compared to LCDM expectations. These observational trends can be reconciled with lensing in a flat Lambda universe with sigma_8=1, provided the linear spectrum is steeper (n = 1) than in the LCDM model on these small (cluster) scales. Under this interpretation, the galaxy distribution traces the matter variance with an amplitude that is 100 times smaller: ie galaxies are anti-bias with b=0.1 on small scales, increasing to b=1 at 10 Mpc/h.

Abstract:
We explore the biasing in the clustering statistics of halos as compared to dark matter (DM) in simulations. We look at the second and third order statistics at large scales of the (intermediate) MICEL1536 simulation and also measure directly the local bias relation h = f({\delta}) between DM fluctuations, {\delta}, smoothed over a top-hat radius Rs at a point in the simulation and its corresponding tracer h (i.e. halos) at the same point. This local relation can be Taylor expanded to define a linear (b1) and non-linear (b2) bias parameters. The values of b1 and b2 in the simulation vary with Rs approaching a constant value around Rs > 30 - 60 Mpc/h. We use the local relation to predict the clustering of the tracer in terms of the one of DM. This prediction works very well (about percent level) for the halo 2-point correlation {\xi}(r_12) for r_12 > 15 Mpc/h, but only when we use the biasing values that we found at very large smoothing radius Rs > 30 - 60 Mpc/h. We find no effect from stochastic or next to leading order terms in the f({\delta}) expansion. But we do find some discrepancies in the 3-point function that needs further understanding. We also look at the clustering of the smoothed moments, the variance and skewness which are volume average correlations and therefore include clustering from smaller scales. In this case, we find that both next to leading order and discreetness corrections (to the local model) are needed at the 10 - 20% level. Shot-noise can be corrected with a term {\sigma}e^2/n where {\sigma}e^2 < 1, i.e., always smaller than the Poisson correction. We also compare these results with the peak-background split predictions from the measured halo mass function. We find 5-10% systematic (and similar statistical) errors in the mass estimation when we use the halo model biasing predictions to calibrate the mass.

Abstract:
Nonlinear combinations of direct observables are often used to estimate quantities of theoretical interest. Without sufficient caution, this could lead to biased estimations. An example of great interest is the skewness $S_3$ of the galaxy distribution, defined as the ratio of the third moment $\xibar_3$ and the variance squared $\xibar_2^2$. Suppose one is given unbiased estimators for $\xibar_3$ and $\xibar_2^2$ respectively, taking a ratio of the two does not necessarily result in an unbiased estimator of $S_3$. Exactly such an estimation-bias affects most existing measurements of $S_3$. Furthermore, common estimators for $\xibar_3$ and $\xibar_2$ suffer also from this kind of estimation-bias themselves: for $\xibar_2$, it is equivalent to what is commonly known as the integral constraint. We present a unifying treatment allowing all these estimation-biases to be calculated analytically. They are in general negative, and decrease in significance as the survey volume increases, for a given smoothing scale. We present a re-analysis of some existing measurements of the variance and skewness and show that most of the well-known systematic discrepancies between surveys with similar selection criteria, but different sizes, can be attributed to the volume-dependent estimation-biases. This affects the inference of the galaxy-bias(es) from these surveys. Our methodology can be adapted to measurements of analogous quantities in quasar spectra and weak-lensing maps. We suggest methods to reduce the above estimation-biases, and point out other examples in LSS studies which might suffer from the same type of a nonlinear-estimation-bias.

Abstract:
We reconsider the problem of gravitational structure formation inside and outside General Relativity (GR), both in the weakly and strongly non-linear regime. We show how these regimes can be explored observationally through clustering of high order cumulants and through the epoch of formation, abundance and clustering of collapse structures, using Press-Schechter formalism and its extensions. We address the question of how different are these predictions when using a non-standard theory of Gravity. We study examples of cosmologies that do not necessarily obey Einstein's field equations: scalar-tensor theories (STT), such as Brans-Dicke (BD), parametrized with $\omega$, a non-standard parametrisation of the Hubble law, $H^2= a^{-3(1+\epsilon)}$, or a non-standard cosmic equation of state $p=\gamma\rho$, where $\gamma$ can be chosen irrespective of the cosmological parameters ($\Omega_M$ and $\Omega_\Lambda$). We present some preliminary bounds on $\gamma$, $\omega$ and $\epsilon$ from observations of the skewness and kurtosis in the APM Galaxy Survey. This test is independent of the overall normalization of rms fluctuations. We also show how abundances and formation times change under these assumptions. Upcoming data on non-linear growth will place strong constraints on such variations from the standard paradigm.

Abstract:
In Part I of this series, we introduced the Spherical Collapse (SC) approximation in Lagrangian space as a way of estimating the cumulants $\xi_J$ of density fluctuations in cosmological Perturbation Theory (PT). Within this approximation, the dynamics is decoupled from the statistics of the initial conditions, so we are able to present here the cumulants for generic Non-Gaussian initial conditions, which can be estimated to arbitrary order including the smoothing effects. The SC model turns out to recover the exact leading-order non-linear contributions up to terms involving non-local integrals of the $J$-point functions. We argue that for the hierarchical ratios $S_J$, these non-local terms are sub-dominant and tend to compensate each other. The resulting predictions show a non-trivial time evolution that can be used to discriminate between models of structure formation. We compare these analytic results to Non-Gaussian N-body simulations, which turn out to be in very good agreement up to scales where $\sigma \simlt 1$.

Abstract:
We present two new dynamical tests of the biasing hypothesis. The first is based on the amplitude and the shape of the galaxy-galaxy correlation function, $\xi_g(r)$, where $r$ is the separation of the galaxy pair. The second test uses the mean relative peculiar velocity for galaxy pairs, $\vs(r)$. This quantity is a measure of the rate of growth of clustering and it is related to the two-point correlation function for the matter density fluctuations, $\xi(r)$. Under the assumption that galaxies trace the mass ($\xi_g = \xi$), the expected relative velocity can be calculated directly from the observed galaxy clustering. The above assumption can be tested by confronting the expected $\vs$ with direct measurements from velocity-distance surveys. Both our methods are checked against N-body experiments and then compared with the $\xi_g(r)$ and $\vs$ estimated from the {\sc APM} galaxy survey and the Mark III catalogue, respectively. Our results suggest that cosmological density parameter is low, $\Omega_m \approx 0.3$, and that the {\sc APM} galaxies trace the mass at separations $r \ga 5 \Mlu$, where $h$ is the Hubble constant in units of 100 km s$^{-1}$Mpc. The present results agree with earlier studies, based on comparing higher order correlations in the {\sc APM} with weakly non-linear perturbation theory. Both approaches constrain the linear bias factor to be within 20% of unity. If the existence of the feature we identified in the {\sc APM} $\xi_g(r)$ -- the inflection point near $\xi_g = 1$ -- is confirmed by more accurate surveys, we may have discovered gravity's smoking gun: the long awaited ``shoulder'' in $\xi$, generated by gravitational dynamics and predicted by Gott and Rees 25 years ago.

Abstract:
Models with late time cosmic acceleration, such as the Lambda-dominated CDM model, predict a freeze out for the growth of linear gravitational potential at moderate redshift z<1, what can be observed as temperature anisotropies in the CMB: the so called integrated Sachs-Wolfe (ISW) effect. We present a direct measurement of the ISW effect based on the angular cross-correlation function, w_{TG}, of CMB temperature anisotropies and dark-matter fluctuations traced by galaxies. We cross-correlate the first-year WMAP data in combination with the APM Galaxy survey. On the largest scales, theta = 4-10 deg, we detect a non-vanishing cross-correlation at 98.8 % significance level, with a 1-sigma error of w_{TG} = 0.35 +/- 0.14 microK, which favors large values of Omega_Lambda \simeq 0.8 for flat FRW models. On smaller scales, theta < 1deg, the correlations disappear. This is contrary to what would be expected from the ISW effect, but the absence of correlations may be simply explained if the ISW signal was being cancelled by anti-correlations arising from the thermal Sunyaev-Zeldovich (SZ) effect.