skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Birrer, Simon"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.


    One of the frontiers for advancing what is known about dark matter lies in using strong gravitational lenses to characterize the population of the smallest dark matter haloes. There is a large volume of information in strong gravitational lens images – the question we seek to answer is to what extent we can refine this information. To this end, we forecast the detectability of a mixed warm and cold dark matter scenario using the anomalous flux ratio method from strong gravitational lensed images. The halo mass function of the mixed dark matter scenario is suppressed relative to cold dark matter but still predicts numerous low-mass dark matter haloes relative to warm dark matter. Since the strong lensing signal receives a contribution from a range of dark matter halo masses and since the signal is sensitive to the specific configuration of dark matter haloes, not just the halo mass function, degeneracies between different forms of suppression in the halo mass function, relative to cold dark matter, can arise. We find that, with a set of lenses with different configurations of the main deflector and hence different sensitivities to different mass ranges of the halo mass function, the different forms of suppression of the halo mass function between the warm dark matter model and the mixed dark matter model can be distinguished with 40 lenses with Bayesian odds of 30:1.

    more » « less
  2. Strong-lensing time delays enable the measurement of the Hubble constant ( H 0 ) independently of other traditional methods. The main limitation to the precision of time-delay cosmography is mass-sheet degeneracy (MSD). Some of the previous TDCOSMO analyses broke the MSD by making standard assumptions about the mass density profile of the lens galaxy, reaching 2% precision from seven lenses. However, this approach could potentially bias the H 0 measurement or underestimate the errors. For this work, we broke the MSD for the first time using spatially resolved kinematics of the lens galaxy in RXJ1131−1231 obtained from the Keck Cosmic Web Imager spectroscopy, in combination with previously published time delay and lens models derived from Hubble Space Telescope imaging. This approach allowed us to robustly estimate H 0 , effectively implementing a maximally flexible mass model. Following a blind analysis, we estimated the angular diameter distance to the lens galaxy D d  = 865 −81 +85 Mpc and the time-delay distance D Δt  = 2180 −271 +472 Mpc, giving H 0  = 77.1 −7.1 +7.3 km s −1 Mpc −1 – for a flat Λ cold dark matter cosmology. The error budget accounts for all uncertainties, including the MSD inherent to the lens mass profile and line-of-sight effects, and those related to the mass–anisotropy degeneracy and projection effects. Our new measurement is in excellent agreement with those obtained in the past using standard simply parametrized mass profiles for this single system ( H 0  = 78.3 −3.3 +3.4 km s −1 Mpc −1 ) and for seven lenses ( H 0  = 74.2 −1.6 +1.6 km s −1 Mpc −1 ), or for seven lenses using single-aperture kinematics and the same maximally flexible models used by us ( H 0  = 73.3 −5.8 +5.8 km s −1 Mpc −1 ). This agreement corroborates the methodology of time-delay cosmography. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    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.

    more » « less
  4. The gravitationally lensed supernova Refsdal appeared in multiple images produced through gravitational lensing by a massive foreground galaxy cluster. After the supernova appeared in 2014, lens models of the galaxy cluster predicted that an additional image of the supernova would appear in 2015, which was subsequently observed. We use the time delays between the images to perform a blinded measurement of the expansion rate of the Universe, quantified by the Hubble constant (H0). Using eight cluster lens models, we inferH0=64.84.3+4.4 kilometers per second per megaparsec. Using the two models most consistent with the observations, we findH0=66.63.3+4.1 kilometers per second per megaparsec. The observations are best reproduced by models that assign dark-matter halos to individual galaxies and the overall cluster.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024

    The primordial matter power spectrum quantifies fluctuations in the distribution of dark matter immediately following inflation. Over cosmic time, overdense regions of the primordial density field grow and collapse into dark matter haloes, whose abundance and density profiles retain memory of the initial conditions. By analysing the image magnifications in 11 strongly lensed and quadruply imaged quasars, we infer the abundance and concentrations of low-mass haloes, and cast the measurement in terms of the amplitude of the primordial matter power spectrum. We anchor the power spectrum on large scales, isolating the effect of small-scale deviations from the Lambda cold dark matter (ΛCDM) prediction. Assuming an analytic model for the power spectrum and accounting for several sources of potential systematic uncertainty, including three different models for the halo mass function, we obtain correlated inferences of $\log _{10}\left(P / P_{\Lambda \rm {CDM}}\right)$, the power spectrum amplitude relative to the predictions of the concordance cosmological model, of $0.0_{-0.4}^{+0.5}$, $0.1_{-0.6}^{+0.7}$, and $0.2_{-0.9}^{+1.0}$ at k = 10, 25, and 50 $\rm {Mpc^{-1}}$ at $68 {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ confidence, consistent with CDM and single-field slow-roll inflation.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract The detection of the accelerated expansion of the Universe has been one of the major breakthroughs in modern cosmology. Several cosmological probes (Cosmic Microwave Background, Supernovae Type Ia, Baryon Acoustic Oscillations) have been studied in depth to better understand the nature of the mechanism driving this acceleration, and they are being currently pushed to their limits, obtaining remarkable constraints that allowed us to shape the standard cosmological model. In parallel to that, however, the percent precision achieved has recently revealed apparent tensions between measurements obtained from different methods. These are either indicating some unaccounted systematic effects, or are pointing toward new physics. Following the development of CMB, SNe, and BAO cosmology, it is critical to extend our selection of cosmological probes. Novel probes can be exploited to validate results, control or mitigate systematic effects, and, most importantly, to increase the accuracy and robustness of our results. This review is meant to provide a state-of-art benchmark of the latest advances in emerging “beyond-standard” cosmological probes. We present how several different methods can become a key resource for observational cosmology. In particular, we review cosmic chronometers, quasars, gamma-ray bursts, standard sirens, lensing time-delay with galaxies and clusters, cosmic voids, neutral hydrogen intensity mapping, surface brightness fluctuations, stellar ages of the oldest objects, secular redshift drift, and clustering of standard candles. The review describes the method, systematics, and results of each probe in a homogeneous way, giving the reader a clear picture of the available innovative methods that have been introduced in recent years and how to apply them. The review also discusses the potential synergies and complementarities between the various probes, exploring how they will contribute to the future of modern cosmology. 
    more » « less

    We measure the size–luminosity relation of photometrically selected galaxies within the redshift range z ∼ 6–9, using galaxies lensed by six foreground Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) clusters. The power afforded by strong gravitational lensing allows us to observe fainter and smaller galaxies than in blank fields. We select our sample of galaxies and obtain their properties, e.g. redshift, magnitude, from the photometrically derived ASTRODEEP catalogues. The intrinsic size is measured with the Lenstruction software, and completeness maps are created as a function of size and luminosity via the GLACiAR2 software. We perform a Bayesian analysis to estimate the intrinsic and incompleteness-corrected size–luminosity distribution, with parametrization re ∝ Lβ. We find slopes of $\beta =0.50^{+0.07}_{-0.07}$ at z ∼ 6 − 7 and $\beta =0.67^{+0.14}_{-0.15}$ at z ∼ 8.5, adopting the Bradac lens model. Our inferred slopes are consistent with other independent determinations of the size–luminosity relation from the HFF data set and steeper than that obtained from the bright galaxies in blank fields. We also investigate the systematic uncertainties associated with the choice of lens models, finding that the slopes of size–luminosity relations derived from different models are mutually consistent, i.e. modelling errors are not a significant source of discrepancy between the size–luminosity relation of blank and lensed fields.

    more » « less
  8. null (Ed.)
    Strong lensing time delays can measure the Hubble constant H 0 independently of any other probe. Assuming commonly used forms for the radial mass density profile of the lenses, a 2% precision has been achieved with seven Time-Delay Cosmography (TDCOSMO) lenses, in tension with the H 0 from the cosmic microwave background. However, without assumptions on the radial mass density profile – and relying exclusively on stellar kinematics to break the mass-sheet degeneracy – the precision drops to 8% with the current data obtained using the seven TDCOSMO lenses, which is insufficient to resolve the H 0 tension. With the addition of external information from 33 Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) lenses, the precision improves to 5% if the deflectors of TDCOSMO and SLACS lenses are drawn from the same population. We investigate the prospect of improving the precision of time-delay cosmography without relying on mass profile assumptions to break the mass-sheet degeneracy. Our forecasts are based on a previously published hierarchical framework. With existing samples and technology, 3.3% precision on H 0 can be reached by adding spatially resolved kinematics of the seven TDCOSMO lenses. The precision improves to 2.5% with the further addition of kinematics for 50 nontime-delay lenses from SLACS and the Strong Lensing Legacy Survey. Expanding the samples to 40 time-delay and 200 nontime-delay lenses will improve the precision to 1.5% and 1.2%, respectively. Time-delay cosmography can reach sufficient precision to resolve the Hubble tension at 3–5 σ , without assumptions on the radial mass profile of lens galaxies. By obtaining this precision with and without external datasets, we will test the consistency of the samples and enable further improvements based on even larger future samples of time-delay and nontime-delay lenses (e.g., from the Rubin , Euclid , and Roman Observatories). 
    more » « less