Astronomy and Astrophysics 523, A68 (2010)
We study the statistical properties of the gravitational field generated by galaxy distribution observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (DR7). We characterize the probability density function of gravitational force fluctuations and relate its limiting behaviors to the correlation properties of the underlying density field. In addition, we study whether the PDF converges to an asymptotic shape within sample volumes. We consider several volume-limited samples of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and we compute the gravitational force probability density function (PDF). The gravitational force is computed in spheres of varying radius as is its PDF. We find that (i) the PDF of the force displays features that can be understood in terms of galaxy two-point correlations and (ii) density fluctuations on the largest scales probed, i.e. r~100 Mpc/h, still contribute significantly to the amplitude of the gravitational force. Our main conclusion is that fluctuations in the gravitational force field generated by galaxy structures are also relevant on scales ~ 100 Mpc/h. By assuming that the gravitational fluctuations in the galaxy distribution reflect those in the whole matter distribution, and that peculiar velocities and accelerations are simply correlated, we may conclude that large-scale fluctuations in the galaxy density field may be the source of the large-scale flows recently observed.