skip to main content

Title: JWST lensed quasar dark matter survey – I. Description and first results

The flux ratios of gravitationally lensed quasars provide a powerful probe of the nature of dark matter. Importantly, these ratios are sensitive to small-scale structure, irrespective of the presence of baryons. This sensitivity may allow us to study the halo mass function even below the scales where galaxies form observable stars. For accurate measurements, it is essential that the quasar’s light is emitted from a physical region of the quasar with an angular scale of milliarcseconds or larger; this minimizes microlensing effects by stars within the deflector. The warm dust region of quasars fits this criterion, as it has parsec-size physical scales and dominates the spectral energy distribution of quasars at wavelengths greater than 10 μm. The JWST Mid-Infrared Instrument is adept at detecting redshifted light in this wavelength range, offering both the spatial resolution and sensitivity required for accurate gravitational lensing flux ratio measurements. Here, we introduce our survey designed to measure the warm dust flux ratios of 31 lensed quasars. We discuss the flux-ratio measurement technique and present results for the first target, DES J0405-3308. We find that we can measure the quasar warm dust flux ratios with 3 per cent precision. Our simulations suggest that this precision makes it feasible to detect the presence of 107 M⊙ dark matter haloes at cosmological distances. Such haloes are expected to be completely dark in cold dark matter models.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; « less
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 2960-2971
["p. 2960-2971"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this

    The flux ratios of strongly lensed quasars have previously been used to infer the properties of dark matter. In these analyses, it is crucial to separate the effect of the main lensing galaxy and the low-mass dark matter halo population. In this work, we investigate flux-ratio perturbations resulting from general third- and fourth-order multipole perturbations to the main lensing galaxy’s mass profile. We simulate four lens systems, each with a different lensing configuration, without multipoles. The simulated flux ratios are perturbed by 10–40 per cent by a population of low-mass haloes consistent with cold dark matter and, in one case, also a satellite galaxy. This level of perturbation is comparable to the magnitude of flux-ratio anomalies in real data that has been previously analysed. We then attempt to fit the simulated systems using multipoles instead of low-mass haloes. We find that multipoles with amplitudes of 0.01 or less can produce flux-ratio perturbations in excess of 40 per cent. In all cases, third- or fourth-order multipoles can individually reduce the magnitude of, if not eliminate, flux-ratio anomalies. When both multipole orders are jointly included, all simulated flux ratios can be fit to within the observational uncertainty. Our results indicate that low-mass haloes and multipoles are highly degenerate when modelling quadruply imaged quasars based just on image positions and flux ratios. In the presence of this degeneracy, flux-ratio anomalies in lensed quasars alone cannot be used to place strong constraints on the properties of dark matter without additional information that can inform our priors.

    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT The free-streaming length of dark matter depends on fundamental dark matter physics, and determines the abundance and concentration of dark matter haloes on sub-galactic scales. Using the image positions and flux ratios from eight quadruply imaged quasars, we constrain the free-streaming length of dark matter and the amplitude of the subhalo mass function (SHMF). We model both main deflector subhaloes and haloes along the line of sight, and account for warm dark matter free-streaming effects on the mass function and mass–concentration relation. By calibrating the scaling of the SHMF with host halo mass and redshift using a suite of simulated haloes, we infer a global normalization for the SHMF. We account for finite-size background sources, and marginalize over the mass profile of the main deflector. Parametrizing dark matter free-streaming through the half-mode mass mhm, we constrain the thermal relic particle mass mDM corresponding to mhm. At $95 \, {\rm per\, cent}$ CI: mhm < 107.8 M⊙ ($m_{\rm {DM}} \gt 5.2 \ \rm {keV}$). We disfavour $m_{\rm {DM}} = 4.0 \,\rm {keV}$ and $m_{\rm {DM}} = 3.0 \,\rm {keV}$ with likelihood ratios of 7:1 and 30:1, respectively, relative to the peak of the posterior distribution. Assuming cold dark matter, we constrain the projected mass in substructure between 106 and 109 M⊙ near lensed images. At $68 \, {\rm per\, cent}$ CI, we infer $2.0{-}6.1 \times 10^{7}\, {{\rm M}_{\odot }}\,\rm {kpc^{-2}}$, corresponding to mean projected mass fraction $\bar{f}_{\rm {sub}} = 0.035_{-0.017}^{+0.021}$. At $95 \, {\rm per\, cent}$ CI, we obtain a lower bound on the projected mass of $0.6 \times 10^{7} \,{{\rm M}_{\odot }}\,\rm {kpc^{-2}}$, corresponding to $\bar{f}_{\rm {sub}} \gt 0.005$. These results agree with the predictions of cold dark matter. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The statistics of galactic-scale quasar pairs can elucidate our understanding of the dynamical evolution of supermassive black hole (SMBH) pairs, the duty cycles of quasar activity in mergers, or even the nature of dark matter, but they have been challenging to measure at cosmic noon, the prime epoch of massive galaxy and SMBH formation. Here we measure a double quasar fraction of ∼6.2 ± 0.5 × 10−4integrated over ∼0.″3–3″ separations (projected physical separations of ∼3–30 kpc atz∼ 2) in luminous (Lbol> 1045.8erg s−1) unobscured quasars at 1.5 <z< 3.5 using Gaia EDR3-resolved pairs around SDSS DR16 quasars. The measurement was based on a sample of 60 Gaia-resolved double quasars (out of 487 Gaia pairs dominated by quasar+star superpositions) at these separations, corrected for pair completeness in Gaia, which we quantify as functions of pair separation, magnitude of the primary, and magnitude contrast. The double quasar fraction increases toward smaller separations by a factor of ∼5 over these scales. The division between physical quasar pairs and lensed quasars in our sample is currently unknown, requiring dedicated follow-up observations (in particular, deep, subarcsecond-resolution IR imaging for the closest pairs). Intriguingly, at this point, the observed pair statistics are in rough agreement with theoretical predictions both for the lensed quasar population in mock catalogs and for dual quasars in cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. Upcoming wide-field imaging/spectroscopic space missions such as Euclid, CSST, and Roman, combined with targeted follow-up observations, will conclusively measure the abundances and host galaxy properties of galactic-scale quasar pairs, offset AGNs, and subarcsecond lensed quasars across cosmic time.

    more » « less
  4. ABSTRACT The magnifications of compact-source lenses are extremely sensitive to the presence of low-mass dark matter haloes along the entire sightline from the source to the observer. Traditionally, the study of dark matter structure in compact-source strong gravitational lenses has been limited to radio-loud systems, as the radio emission is extended and thus unaffected by microlensing which can mimic the signal of dark matter structure. An alternate approach is to measure quasar nuclear-narrow-line emission, which is free from microlensing and present in virtually all quasar lenses. In this paper, we double the number of systems which can be used for gravitational lensing analyses by presenting measurements of narrow-line emission from a sample of eight quadruply imaged quasar lens systems, WGD J0405−3308, HS 0810+2554, RX J0911+0551, SDSS J1330+1810, PS J1606−2333, WFI 2026−4536, WFI 2033−4723, and WGD J2038−4008. We describe our updated grism spectral modelling pipeline, which we use to measure narrow-line fluxes with uncertainties of 2–10 per cent, presented here. We fit the lensed image positions with smooth mass models and demonstrate that these models fail to produce the observed distribution of image fluxes over the entire sample of lenses. Furthermore, typical deviations are larger than those expected from macromodel uncertainties. This discrepancy indicates the presence of perturbations caused by small-scale dark matter structure. The interpretation of this result in terms of dark matter models is presented in a companion paper. 
    more » « less

    The processes of star formation and feedback, regulating the cycle of matter between gas and stars on the scales of giant molecular clouds (GMCs; ∼100 pc), play a major role in governing galaxy evolution. Measuring the time-scales of GMC evolution is important to identify and characterize the specific physical mechanisms that drive this transition. By applying a robust statistical method to high-resolution CO and narrow-band H α imaging from the PHANGS survey, we systematically measure the evolutionary timeline from molecular clouds to exposed young stellar regions on GMC scales, across the discs of an unprecedented sample of 54 star-forming main-sequence galaxies (excluding their unresolved centres). We find that clouds live for about 1−3 GMC turbulence crossing times (5−30 Myr) and are efficiently dispersed by stellar feedback within 1−5 Myr once the star-forming region becomes partially exposed, resulting in integrated star formation efficiencies of 1−8 per cent. These ranges reflect physical galaxy-to-galaxy variation. In order to evaluate whether galactic environment influences GMC evolution, we correlate our measurements with average properties of the GMCs and their local galactic environment. We find several strong correlations that can be physically understood, revealing a quantitative link between galactic-scale environmental properties and the small-scale GMC evolution. Notably, the measured CO-visible cloud lifetimes become shorter with decreasing galaxy mass, mostly due to the increasing presence of CO-dark molecular gas in such environment. Our results represent a first step towards a comprehensive picture of cloud assembly and dispersal, which requires further extension and refinement with tracers of the atomic gas, dust, and deeply embedded stars.

    more » « less