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  1. 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
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  3. Abstract On 2019 August 14 at 21:10:39 UTC, the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration (LVC) detected a possible neutron star–black hole merger (NSBH), the first ever identified. An extensive search for an optical counterpart of this event, designated GW190814, was undertaken using the Dark Energy Camera on the 4 m Victor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Target of Opportunity interrupts were issued on eight separate nights to observe 11 candidates using the 4.1 m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope’s Goodman High Throughput Spectrograph in order to assess whether any of these transients was likely to be an optical counterpartmore »of the possible NSBH merger. Here, we describe the process of observing with SOAR, the analysis of our spectra, our spectroscopic typing methodology, and our resultant conclusion that none of the candidates corresponded to the gravitational wave merger event but were all instead other transients. Finally, we describe the lessons learned from this effort. Application of these lessons will be critical for a successful community spectroscopic follow-up program for LVC observing run 4 (O4) and beyond.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. ABSTRACT We present a blind time-delay cosmographic analysis for the lens system DES J0408−5354. This system is extraordinary for the presence of two sets of multiple images at different redshifts, which provide the opportunity to obtain more information at the cost of increased modelling complexity with respect to previously analysed systems. We perform detailed modelling of the mass distribution for this lens system using three band Hubble Space Telescope imaging. We combine the measured time delays, line-of-sight central velocity dispersion of the deflector, and statistically constrained external convergence with our lens models to estimate two cosmological distances. We measure themore »‘effective’ time-delay distance corresponding to the redshifts of the deflector and the lensed quasar $D_{\Delta t}^{\rm eff}=$$3382_{-115}^{+146}$ Mpc and the angular diameter distance to the deflector Dd = $1711_{-280}^{+376}$ Mpc, with covariance between the two distances. From these constraints on the cosmological distances, we infer the Hubble constant H0= $74.2_{-3.0}^{+2.7}$ km s−1 Mpc−1 assuming a flat ΛCDM cosmology and a uniform prior for Ωm as $\Omega _{\rm m} \sim \mathcal {U}(0.05, 0.5)$. This measurement gives the most precise constraint on H0 to date from a single lens. Our measurement is consistent with that obtained from the previous sample of six lenses analysed by the H0 Lenses in COSMOGRAIL’s Wellspring (H0LiCOW) collaboration. It is also consistent with measurements of H0 based on the local distance ladder, reinforcing the tension with the inference from early Universe probes, for example, with 2.2σ discrepancy from the cosmic microwave background measurement.« less