Simulations of the pairwise kinematic sunyaev-zel'dovich signal

Samuel Flender, Lindsey Bleem, Hal Finkel, Salman Habib, Katrin Heitmann, Gilbert Holder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pairwise kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (kSZ) signal from galaxy clusters is a probe of their line of sight momenta, and thus a potentially valuable source of cosmological information. In addition to the momenta, the amplitude of the measured signal depends on the properties of the intracluster gas and observational limitations such as errors in determining cluster centers and redshifts. In this work, we simulate the pairwise kSZ signal of clusters at z < 1, using the output from a cosmological N-body simulation and including the properties of the intracluster gas via a model that can be varied in post-processing. We find that modifications to the gas profile due to star formation and feedback reduce the pairwise kSZ amplitude of clusters by ∼50%, relative to the naive "gas traces mass" assumption. We demonstrate that miscentering can reduce the overall amplitude of the pairwise kSZ signal by up to 10%, while redshift errors can lead to an almost complete suppression of the signal at small separations. We confirm that a high-significance detection is expected from the combination of data from current generation, high-resolution cosmic microwave background experiments, such as the South Pole Telescope, and cluster samples from optical photometric surveys, such as the Dark Energy Survey. Furthermore, we forecast that future experiments such as Advanced ACTPol in conjunction with data from the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument will yield detection significances of at least 20s, and up to 57s in an optimistic scenario. Our simulated maps are publicly available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • cosmic background radiation
  • cosmology: theory
  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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