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  1. ABSTRACT We study the optical gri photometric variability of a sample of 190 quasars within the SDSS Stripe 82 region that have long-term photometric coverage during ∼1998−2020 with SDSS, PanSTARRS-1, the Dark Energy Survey, and dedicated follow-up monitoring with Blanco 4m/DECam. With on average ∼200 nightly epochs per quasar per filter band, we improve the parameter constraints from a Damped Random Walk (DRW) model fit to the light curves over previous studies with 10–15 yr baselines and ≲ 100 epochs. We find that the average damping time-scale τDRW continues to rise with increased baseline, reaching a median value of ∼750 d (gmore »band) in the rest frame of these quasars using the 20-yr light curves. Some quasars may have gradual, long-term trends in their light curves, suggesting that either the DRW fit requires very long baselines to converge, or that the underlying variability is more complex than a single DRW process for these quasars. Using a subset of quasars with better-constrained τDRW (less than 20 per cent of the baseline), we confirm a weak wavelength dependence of τDRW∝λ0.51 ± 0.20. We further quantify optical variability of these quasars over days to decades time-scales using structure function (SF) and power spectrum density (PSD) analyses. The SF and PSD measurements qualitatively confirm the measured (hundreds of days) damping time-scales from the DRW fits. However, the ensemble PSD is steeper than that of a DRW on time-scales less than ∼ a month for these luminous quasars, and this second break point correlates with the longer DRW damping time-scale.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 2, 2023
  2. Abstract We use a recent census of the Milky Way (MW) satellite galaxy population to constrain the lifetime of particle dark matter (DM). We consider two-body decaying dark matter (DDM) in which a heavy DM particle decays with lifetime τ comparable to the age of the universe to a lighter DM particle (with mass splitting ϵ ) and to a dark radiation species. These decays impart a characteristic “kick velocity,” V kick = ϵ c , on the DM daughter particles, significantly depleting the DM content of low-mass subhalos and making them more susceptible to tidal disruption. We fit themore »suppression of the present-day DDM subhalo mass function (SHMF) as a function of τ and V kick using a suite of high-resolution zoom-in simulations of MW-mass halos, and we validate this model on new DDM simulations of systems specifically chosen to resemble the MW. We implement our DDM SHMF predictions in a forward model that incorporates inhomogeneities in the spatial distribution and detectability of MW satellites and uncertainties in the mapping between galaxies and DM halos, the properties of the MW system, and the disruption of subhalos by the MW disk using an empirical model for the galaxy–halo connection. By comparing to the observed MW satellite population, we conservatively exclude DDM models with τ < 18 Gyr (29 Gyr) for V kick = 20 kms −1 (40 kms −1 ) at 95% confidence. These constraints are among the most stringent and robust small-scale structure limits on the DM particle lifetime and strongly disfavor DDM models that have been proposed to alleviate the Hubble and S 8 tensions.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  3. 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
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  5. Abstract We present the second public data release (DR2) from the DECam Local Volume Exploration survey (DELVE). DELVE DR2 combines new DECam observations with archival DECam data from the Dark Energy Survey, the DECam Legacy Survey, and other DECam community programs. DELVE DR2 consists of ∼160,000 exposures that cover >21,000 deg 2 of the high-Galactic-latitude (∣ b ∣ > 10°) sky in four broadband optical/near-infrared filters ( g , r , i , z ). DELVE DR2 provides point-source and automatic aperture photometry for ∼2.5 billion astronomical sources with a median 5 σ point-source depth of g = 24.3, rmore »= 23.9, i = 23.5, and z = 22.8 mag. A region of ∼17,000 deg 2 has been imaged in all four filters, providing four-band photometric measurements for ∼618 million astronomical sources. DELVE DR2 covers more than 4 times the area of the previous DELVE data release and contains roughly 5 times as many astronomical objects. DELVE DR2 is publicly available via the NOIRLab Astro Data Lab science platform.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  7. 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
  8. We present six new time-delay measurements obtained from R c -band monitoring data acquired at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPIA) 2.2 m telescope at La Silla observatory between October 2016 and February 2020. The lensed quasars HE 0047−1756, WG 0214−2105, DES 0407−5006, 2M 1134−2103, PSJ 1606−2333, and DES 2325−5229 were observed almost daily at high signal-to-noise ratio to obtain high-quality light curves where we can record fast and small-amplitude variations of the quasars. We measured time delays between all pairs of multiple images with only one or two seasons of monitoring with the exception of the time delaysmore »relative to image D of PSJ 1606−2333. The most precise estimate was obtained for the delay between image A and image B of DES 0407−5006, where τ AB = −128.4 −3.8 +3.5 d (2.8% precision) including systematics due to extrinsic variability in the light curves. For HE 0047−1756, we combined our high-cadence data with measurements from decade-long light curves from previous COSMOGRAIL campaigns, and reach a precision of 0.9 d on the final measurement. The present work demonstrates the feasibility of measuring time delays in lensed quasars in only one or two seasons, provided high signal-to-noise ratio data are obtained at a cadence close to daily.« less
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  10. 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