In the coming decade, a new generation of telescopes, including JWST and WFIRST, will probe the period of the formation of first galaxies and quasars, and open up the last frontier for structure formation. Recent simulations and observations have suggested that these galaxies are strongly clustered (with large-scale bias 6), and therefore have significant cosmic variance. In this work, we use bluetides, the largest volume cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, to directly estimate the cosmic variance for current and upcoming surveys. Given its resolution and volume, bluetides can probe the bias and cosmic variance of z > 7 galaxies between magnitude MUV ∼-16 and MUV ∼-22 over survey areas ∼0.1 arcmin2 to ∼10 deg2. Within this regime, the cosmic variance decreases with survey area/volume as a power law with exponents between ∼-0.25 and ∼-0.45. For the planned 10 deg2 field of WFIRST, the cosmic variance is between 3rm % and 10rm %. Upcoming JWST medium/deep surveys with areas up to A ∼100 arcmin2 will have cosmic variance ranging from ∼20 to50rm %. Lensed surveys have the highest cosmic variance\gtrsim40rm %; the cosmic variance of MUV-16 galaxies is\lesssim100rm % up to z ∼11. At higher redshifts such as z ∼12 (14), effective volumes of (8 Mpc h-1)3 ((12 Mpc h-1)3) are required to limit the cosmic variance to within 100rm %. Finally, we find that cosmic variance is larger than Poisson variance and forms the dominant component of the overall uncertainty in all current and upcoming surveys. We present our calculations in the form of simple fitting functions and an online cosmic variance calculator (CV-AT-COSMIC-DAWN) that we publicly release.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- galaxies: high-redshift