Measuring cosmological distances using cluster edges as a standard ruler

Erika L. Wagoner, Eduardo Rozo, Han Aung, Daisuke Nagai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The line-of-sight velocity dispersion profile of galaxy clusters exhibits a 'kink' corresponding to the spatial extent of orbiting galaxies. Because the spatial extent of a cluster is correlated with the amplitude of the velocity dispersion profile, we can utilize this feature as a gravity-calibrated standard ruler. Specifically, the amplitude of the velocity dispersion data allows us to infer the physical cluster size. Consequently, observations of the angular scale of the 'kink' in the profile can be translated into a distance measurement to the cluster. Assuming the relation between cluster radius and cluster velocity dispersion can be calibrated from simulations, we forecast that with existing data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey we will be able to measure the Hubble constant with 3.0 per cent precision. Implementing our method with data from the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) will result in a 1.3 per cent measurement of the Hubble constant. Adding cosmological supernova data improves the uncertainty of the DESI measurement to 0.7 per cent. While these error estimates are statistical only, they provide strong motivation for pursuing the necessary simulation program required to characterize and calibrate the systematic uncertainties impacting our proposed measurement. Whether or not our proposed measurement can in fact result in competitive H0 constraints will depend on what the eventual systematics floor for this method is.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1619-1626
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Distance scale
  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Methods: data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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