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Title: From Images to Dark Matter: End-to-end Inference of Substructure from Hundreds of Strong Gravitational Lenses

Constraining the distribution of small-scale structure in our universe allows us to probe alternatives to the cold dark matter paradigm. Strong gravitational lensing offers a unique window into small dark matter halos (<1010M) because these halos impart a gravitational lensing signal even if they do not host luminous galaxies. We create large data sets of strong lensing images with realistic low-mass halos, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observational effects, and galaxy light from HST’s COSMOS field. Using a simulation-based inference pipeline, we train a neural posterior estimator of the subhalo mass function (SHMF) and place constraints on populations of lenses generated using a separate set of galaxy sources. We find that by combining our network with a hierarchical inference framework, we can both reliably infer the SHMF across a variety of configurations and scale efficiently to populations with hundreds of lenses. By conducting precise inference on large and complex simulated data sets, our method lays a foundation for extracting dark matter constraints from the next generation of wide-field optical imaging surveys.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 75
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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