Searching for non-gaussianity: Statistical tests


Non-gaussianity represents the statistical signature of physical processes such as turbulence. It can also be used as a powerful tool to discriminate between competing cosmological scenarios. A canonical analysis of non-gaussianity is based on the study of the distribution of the signal in the real (or direct) space (e.g. brightness, temperature). This work presents an image processing method in which we propose statistical tests to indicate and quantify the non-gaussian nature of a signal. Our method is based on a wavelet analysis of a signal. Because the temperature or brightness distribution is a rather weak discriminator, the search for the statistical signature of non-gaussianity relies on the study of the coefficient distribution of an image in the wavelet decomposition basis which is much more sensitive. We develop two statistical tests for non-gaussianity. In order to test their reliability, we apply them to sets of test maps representing a combination of gaussian and non-gaussian signals. We deliberately choose a signal with a weak non-gaussian signature and we find that such a non-gaussian signature is easily detected using our statistical discriminators. In a second paper, we apply the tests in a cosmological context.Comment: 14 pages, 7 figures, in press in Astronomy & Astrophysics Supplement Serie

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