by Francesco Sylos Labini and Luciano Pietronero
J. Stat. Mech. (2010) P11029
The large scale distribution of galaxies in the universe displays a complex pattern of clusters, super-clusters, filaments and voids with sizes limited only by the boundaries of the available samples. A quantitative statistical characterization of these structures shows that galaxy distribution is inhomogeneous in these samples, being characterized by large-amplitude fluctuations of large spatial extension. Over a large range of scales, both the average conditional density and its variance show a nontrivial scaling behavior: at small scales, r<20 Mpc/h, the average (conditional) density scales as 1/r. At larger scales, the density depends only weakly (logarithmically) on the system size and density fluctuations follow the Gumbel distribution of extreme value statistics. These complex behaviors are different from what is expected in a homogeneous distribution with Gaussian fluctuations. The observed density inhomogeneities pose a fundamental challenge to the standard picture of cosmology but it also represent an important opportunity which points to new directions with respect to many cosmological puzzles. Indeed, the fact that matter distribution is not uniform, in the limited range of scales sampled by observations, rises the question of understanding how inhomogeneities affect the large-scale dynamics of the universe. We discuss several attempts which try to model inhomogeneities in cosmology, considering their effects with respect to the role and abundance of dark energy and dark matter.