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  1. Time delay cosmography uses the arrival time delays between images in strong gravitational lenses to measure cosmological parameters, in particular the Hubble constant H 0 . The lens models used in time delay cosmography omit dark matter subhalos and line-of-sight halos because their effects are assumed to be negligible. We explicitly quantify this assumption by analyzing mock lens systems that include full populations of dark matter subhalos and line-of-sight halos, applying the same modeling assumptions used in the literature to infer H 0 . We base the mock lenses on six quadruply imaged quasars that have delivered measurements of themore »Hubble constant, and quantify the additional uncertainties and/or bias on a lens-by-lens basis. We show that omitting dark substructure does not bias inferences of H 0 . However, perturbations from substructure contribute an additional source of random uncertainty in the inferred value of H 0 that scales as the square root of the lensing volume divided by the longest time delay. This additional source of uncertainty, for which we provide a fitting function, ranges from 0.7 − 2.4%. It may need to be incorporated in the error budget as the precision of cosmographic inferences from single lenses improves, and it sets a precision limit on inferences from single lenses.« less
  2. ABSTRACT Strongly lensed quadruply imaged quasars (quads) are extraordinary objects. They are very rare in the sky and yet they provide unique information about a wide range of topics, including the expansion history and the composition of the Universe, the distribution of stars and dark matter in galaxies, the host galaxies of quasars, and the stellar initial mass function. Finding them in astronomical images is a classic ‘needle in a haystack’ problem, as they are outnumbered by other (contaminant) sources by many orders of magnitude. To solve this problem, we develop state-of-the-art deep learning methods and train them on realisticmore »simulated quads based on real images of galaxies taken from the Dark Energy Survey, with realistic source and deflector models, including the chromatic effects of microlensing. The performance of the best methods on a mixture of simulated and real objects is excellent, yielding area under the receiver operating curve in the range of 0.86–0.89. Recall is close to 100 per cent down to total magnitude i ∼ 21 indicating high completeness, while precision declines from 85 per cent to 70 per cent in the range i ∼ 17–21. The methods are extremely fast: training on 2 million samples takes 20 h on a GPU machine, and 108 multiband cut-outs can be evaluated per GPU-hour. The speed and performance of the method pave the way to apply it to large samples of astronomical sources, bypassing the need for photometric pre-selection that is likely to be a major cause of incompleteness in current samples of known quads.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 5, 2023
  3. 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
  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 formore »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.« less
  5. 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
  6. Time-delay cosmography of lensed quasars has achieved 2.4% precision on the measurement of the Hubble constant, H 0 . As part of an ongoing effort to uncover and control systematic uncertainties, we investigate three potential sources: 1- stellar kinematics, 2- line-of-sight effects, and 3- the deflector mass model. To meet this goal in a quantitative way, we reproduced the H0LiCOW/SHARP/STRIDES (hereafter TDCOSMO) procedures on a set of real and simulated data, and we find the following. First, stellar kinematics cannot be a dominant source of error or bias since we find that a systematic change of 10% of measured velocitymore »dispersion leads to only a 0.7% shift on H 0 from the seven lenses analyzed by TDCOSMO. Second, we find no bias to arise from incorrect estimation of the line-of-sight effects. Third, we show that elliptical composite (stars + dark matter halo), power-law, and cored power-law mass profiles have the flexibility to yield a broad range in H 0 values. However, the TDCOSMO procedures that model the data with both composite and power-law mass profiles are informative. If the models agree, as we observe in real systems owing to the “bulge-halo” conspiracy, H 0 is recovered precisely and accurately by both models. If the two models disagree, as in the case of some pathological models illustrated here, the TDCOSMO procedure either discriminates between them through the goodness of fit, or it accounts for the discrepancy in the final error bars provided by the analysis. This conclusion is consistent with a reanalysis of six of the TDCOSMO (real) lenses: the composite model yields H 0 = 74.0 −1.8 +1.7 km s −1 Mpc −1 , while the power-law model yields 74.2 −1.6 +1.6 km s −1 Mpc −1 . In conclusion, we find no evidence of bias or errors larger than the current statistical uncertainties reported by TDCOSMO.« less
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  8. ABSTRACT In time-delay cosmography, three of the key ingredients are (1) determining the velocity dispersion of the lensing galaxy, (2) identifying galaxies and groups along the line of sight with sufficient proximity and mass to be included in the mass model, and (3) estimating the external convergence κext from less massive structures that are not included in the mass model. We present results on all three of these ingredients for two time-delay lensed quad quasar systems, DES J0408–5354 and WGD 2038–4008 . We use the Gemini, Magellan, and VLT telescopes to obtain spectra to both measure the stellar velocity dispersions of the main lensingmore »galaxies and to identify the line-of-sight galaxies in these systems. Next, we identify 10 groups in DES J0408–5354 and two groups in WGD 2038–4008 using a group-finding algorithm. We then identify the most significant galaxy and galaxy-group perturbers using the ‘flexion shift’ criterion. We determine the probability distribution function of the external convergence κext for both of these systems based on our spectroscopy and on the DES-only multiband wide-field observations. Using weighted galaxy counts, calibrated based on the Millennium Simulation, we find that DES J0408–5354 is located in a significantly underdense environment, leading to a tight (width $\sim 3{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$), negative-value κext distribution. On the other hand, WGD 2038–4008 is located in an environment of close to unit density, and its low source redshift results in a much tighter κext of $\sim 1{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, as long as no external shear constraints are imposed.« less
  9. ABSTRACT We report the results of the STRong lensing Insights into the Dark Energy Survey (STRIDES) follow-up campaign of the late 2017/early 2018 season. We obtained spectra of 65 lensed quasar candidates with ESO Faint Object Spectrograph and Camera 2 on the NTT and Echellette Spectrograph and Imager on Keck, confirming 10 new lensed quasars and 10 quasar pairs. Eight lensed quasars are doubly imaged with source redshifts between 0.99 and 2.90, one is triply imaged (DESJ0345−2545, z = 1.68), and one is quadruply imaged (quad: DESJ0053−2012, z = 3.8). Singular isothermal ellipsoid models for the doubles, based on high-resolution imaging frommore »SAMI on Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope or Near InfraRed Camera 2 on Keck, give total magnifications between 3.2 and 5.6, and Einstein radii between 0.49 and 1.97 arcsec. After spectroscopic follow-up, we extract multi-epoch grizY photometry of confirmed lensed quasars and contaminant quasar + star pairs from DES data using parametric multiband modelling, and compare variability in each system’s components. By measuring the reduced χ2 associated with fitting all epochs to the same magnitude, we find a simple cut on the less variable component that retains all confirmed lensed quasars, while removing 94 per cent of contaminant systems. Based on our spectroscopic follow-up, this variability information improves selection of lensed quasars and quasar pairs from 34-45 per cent to 51–70 per cent, with most remaining contaminants being star-forming galaxies. Using mock lensed quasar light curves we demonstrate that selection based only on variability will over-represent the quad fraction by 10 per cent over a complete DES magnitude-limited sample, explained by the magnification bias and hence lower luminosity/more variable sources in quads.« less
  10. 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