skip to main content

Title: Overconstrained gravitational lens models and the Hubble constant
ABSTRACT It is well known that measurements of H0 from gravitational lens time delays scale as H0 ∝ 1 − κE, where κE is the mean convergence at the Einstein radius RE but that all available lens data other than the delays provide no direct constraints on κE. The properties of the radial mass distribution constrained by lens data are RE and the dimensionless quantity ξ = REα″(RE)/(1 − κE), where α″(RE) is the second derivative of the deflection profile at RE. Lens models with too few degrees of freedom, like power-law models with densities ρ ∝ r−n, have a one-to-one correspondence between ξ and κE (for a power-law model, ξ = 2(n − 2) and κE = (3 − n)/2 = (2 − ξ)/4). This means that highly constrained lens models with few parameters quickly lead to very precise but inaccurate estimates of κE and hence H0. Based on experiments with a broad range of plausible dark matter halo models, it is unlikely that any current estimates of H0 from gravitational lens time delays are more accurate than ${\sim} 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, regardless of the reported precision.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1725 to 1735
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The two properties of the radial mass distribution of a gravitational lens that are well constrained by Einstein rings are the Einstein radius RE and ξ2 = REα″(RE)/(1 − κE), where α″(RE) and κE are the second derivative of the deflection profile and the convergence at RE, respectively. However, if there is a tight mathematical relationship between the radial mass profile and the angular structure, as is true of ellipsoids, an Einstein ring can appear to strongly distinguish radial mass distributions with the same ξ2. This problem is beautifully illustrated by the ellipsoidal models in Millon et al. When using Einsteinmore »rings to constrain the radial mass distribution, the angular structure of the models must contain all the degrees of freedom expected in nature (e.g. external shear, different ellipticities for the stars and the dark matter, modest deviations from elliptical structure, modest twists of the axes, modest ellipticity gradients, etc.) that work to decouple the radial and angular structures of the gravity. Models of Einstein rings with too few angular degrees of freedom will lead to strongly biased likelihood distinctions between radial mass distributions and very precise but inaccurate estimates of H0 based on gravitational lens time delays.« less
  2. The H0LiCOW collaboration inferred via strong gravitational lensing time delays a Hubble constant value of H 0 = 73.3 −1.8 +1.7 km s −1 Mpc −1 , describing deflector mass density profiles by either a power-law or stars (constant mass-to-light ratio) plus standard dark matter halos. The mass-sheet transform (MST) that leaves the lensing observables unchanged is considered the dominant source of residual uncertainty in H 0 . We quantify any potential effect of the MST with a flexible family of mass models, which directly encodes it, and they are hence maximally degenerate with H 0 . Our calculation ismore »based on a new hierarchical Bayesian approach in which the MST is only constrained by stellar kinematics. The approach is validated on mock lenses, which are generated from hydrodynamic simulations. We first applied the inference to the TDCOSMO sample of seven lenses, six of which are from H0LiCOW, and measured H 0 = 74.5 −6.1 +5.6 km s −1 Mpc −1 . Secondly, in order to further constrain the deflector mass density profiles, we added imaging and spectroscopy for a set of 33 strong gravitational lenses from the Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) sample. For nine of the 33 SLAC lenses, we used resolved kinematics to constrain the stellar anisotropy. From the joint hierarchical analysis of the TDCOSMO+SLACS sample, we measured H 0 = 67.4 −3.2 +4.1 km s −1 Mpc −1 . This measurement assumes that the TDCOSMO and SLACS galaxies are drawn from the same parent population. The blind H0LiCOW, TDCOSMO-only and TDCOSMO+SLACS analyses are in mutual statistical agreement. The TDCOSMO+SLACS analysis prefers marginally shallower mass profiles than H0LiCOW or TDCOSMO-only. Without relying on the form of the mass density profile used by H0LiCOW, we achieve a ∼5% measurement of H 0 . While our new hierarchical analysis does not statistically invalidate the mass profile assumptions by H0LiCOW – and thus the H 0 measurement relying on them – it demonstrates the importance of understanding the mass density profile of elliptical galaxies. The uncertainties on H 0 derived in this paper can be reduced by physical or observational priors on the form of the mass profile, or by additional data.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Strongly lensed quasars can provide measurements of the Hubble constant (H0) independent of any other methods. One of the key ingredients is exquisite high-resolution imaging data, such as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging and adaptive-optics (AO) imaging from ground-based telescopes, which provide strong constraints on the mass distribution of the lensing galaxy. In this work, we expand on the previous analysis of three time-delay lenses with AO imaging (RX J1131−1231, HE 0435−1223, and PG 1115+080), and perform a joint analysis of J0924+0219 by using AO imaging from the Keck telescope, obtained as part of the Strong lensing at High Angular Resolution Program (SHARP)more »AO effort, with HST imaging to constrain the mass distribution of the lensing galaxy. Under the assumption of a flat Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model with fixed Ωm = 0.3, we show that by marginalizing over two different kinds of mass models (power-law and composite models) and their transformed mass profiles via a mass-sheet transformation, we obtain $\Delta t_{\rm BA}=6.89\substack{+0.8\\-0.7}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, $\Delta t_{\rm CA}=10.7\substack{+1.6\\-1.2}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, and $\Delta t_{\rm DA}=7.70\substack{+1.0\\-0.9}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, where $h=H_{0}/100\,\rm km\, s^{-1}\, Mpc^{-1}$ is the dimensionless Hubble constant and $\hat{\sigma }_{v}=\sigma ^{\rm ob}_{v}/(280\,\rm km\, s^{-1})$ is the scaled dimensionless velocity dispersion. Future measurements of time delays with 10 per cent uncertainty and velocity dispersion with 5 per cent uncertainty would yield a H0 constraint of ∼15 per cent precision.« less
  4. ABSTRACT Galaxies and galaxy groups located along the line of sight towards gravitationally lensed quasars produce high-order perturbations of the gravitational potential at the lens position. When these perturbation are too large, they can induce a systematic error on H0 of a few per cent if the lens system is used for cosmological inference and the perturbers are not explicitly accounted for in the lens model. In this work, we present a detailed characterization of the environment of the lens system WFI 2033−4723 ($z_{\rm src} =\,$1.662, $z_{\rm lens}=\,$0.6575), one of the core targets of the H0LiCOW project for which we present cosmological inferences inmore »a companion paper. We use the Gemini and ESO-Very Large telescopes to measure the spectroscopic redshifts of the brightest galaxies towards the lens, and use the ESO-MUSE integral field spectrograph to measure the velocity-dispersion of the lens ($\sigma _{\rm {los}}= 250^{+15}_{-21}$  km s−1) and of several nearby galaxies. In addition, we measure photometric redshifts and stellar masses of all galaxies down to i < 23 mag, mainly based on Dark Energy Survey imaging (DR1). Our new catalogue, complemented with literature data, more than doubles the number of known galaxy spectroscopic redshifts in the direct vicinity of the lens, expanding to 116 (64) the number of spectroscopic redshifts for galaxies separated by less than 3 arcmin (2 arcmin ) from the lens. Using the flexion-shift as a measure of the amplitude of the gravitational perturbation, we identify two galaxy groups and three galaxies that require specific attention in the lens models. The ESO MUSE data enable us to measure the velocity-dispersions of three of these galaxies. These results are essential for the cosmological inference analysis presented in Rusu et al.« less
  5. ABSTRACT In recent years, breakthroughs in methods and data have enabled gravitational time delays to emerge as a very powerful tool to measure the Hubble constant H0. However, published state-of-the-art analyses require of order 1 yr of expert investigator time and up to a million hours of computing time per system. Furthermore, as precision improves, it is crucial to identify and mitigate systematic uncertainties. With this time delay lens modelling challenge, we aim to assess the level of precision and accuracy of the modelling techniques that are currently fast enough to handle of order 50 lenses, via the blind analysismore »of simulated data sets. The results in Rungs 1 and 2 show that methods that use only the point source positions tend to have lower precision ($10\!-\!20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) while remaining accurate. In Rung 2, the methods that exploit the full information of the imaging and kinematic data sets can recover H0 within the target accuracy (|A| < 2 per cent) and precision (<6 per cent per system), even in the presence of a poorly known point spread function and complex source morphology. A post-unblinding analysis of Rung 3 showed the numerical precision of the ray-traced cosmological simulations to be insufficient to test lens modelling methodology at the percent level, making the results difficult to interpret. A new challenge with improved simulations is needed to make further progress in the investigation of systematic uncertainties. For completeness, we present the Rung 3 results in an appendix and use them to discuss various approaches to mitigating against similar subtle data generation effects in future blind challenges.« less