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  1. Time-delay cosmography with gravitationally lensed quasars plays an important role in anchoring the absolute distance scale and hence measuring the Hubble constant, H 0 , independent of traditional distance ladder methodology. A current potential limitation of time-delay distance measurements is the mass-sheet transformation (MST), which leaves the lensed imaging unchanged but changes the distance measurements and the derived value of H 0 . In this work we show that the standard method of addressing the MST in time-delay cosmography, through a combination of high-resolution imaging and the measurement of the stellar velocity dispersion of the lensing galaxy, depends on themore »assumption that the ratio, D s / D ds , of angular diameter distances to the background quasar and between the lensing galaxy and the quasar can be constrained. This is typically achieved through the assumption of a particular cosmological model. Previous work (TDCOSMO IV) addressed the mass-sheet degeneracy and derived H 0 under the assumption of the ΛCDM model. In this paper we show that the mass-sheet degeneracy can be broken without relying on a specific cosmological model by combining lensing with relative distance indicators such as supernovae Type Ia and baryon acoustic oscillations, which constrain the shape of the expansion history and hence D s / D ds . With this approach, we demonstrate that the mass-sheet degeneracy can be constrained in a cosmological model-independent way. Hence model-independent distance measurements in time-delay cosmography under MSTs can be obtained.« less
  2. ABSTRACT We report upon 3 years of follow-up and confirmation of doubly imaged quasar lenses through imaging campaigns from 2016 to 2018 with the Near-Infrared Camera2 (NIRC2) on the W. M. Keck Observatory. A sample of 57 quasar lens candidates are imaged in adaptive-optics-assisted or seeing-limited K′-band observations. Out of these 57 candidates, 15 are confirmed as lenses. We form a sample of 20 lenses adding in a number of previously known lenses that were imaged with NIRC2 in 2013–14 as part of a pilot study. By modelling these 20 lenses, we obtain K′-band relative photometry and astrometry of themore »quasar images and the lens galaxy. We also provide the lens properties and predicted time delays to aid planning of follow-up observations necessary for various astrophysical applications, e.g. spectroscopic follow-up to obtain the deflector redshifts for the newly confirmed systems. We compare the departure of the observed flux ratios from the smooth-model predictions between doubly and quadruply imaged quasar systems. We find that the departure is consistent between these two types of lenses if the modelling uncertainty is comparable.« less
  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 One of the main challenges in using high-redshift active galactic nuclei (AGNs) to study the correlations between the mass of a supermassive black hole ($\mathcal {M}_{\rm BH}$) and the properties of its active host galaxy is instrumental resolution. Strong lensing magnification effectively increases instrumental resolution and thus helps to address this challenge. In this work, we study eight strongly lensed AGNs with deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging, using the lens modelling code lenstronomy to reconstruct the image of the source. Using the reconstructed brightness of the host galaxy, we infer the host galaxy stellar mass based on stellar populationmore »models. $\mathcal {M}_{\rm BH}$ are estimated from broad emission lines using standard methods. Our results are in good agreement with recent work based on non-lensed AGNs, demonstrating the potential of using strongly lensed AGNs to extend the study of the correlations to higher redshifts. At the moment, the sample size of lensed AGNs is small and thus they provide mostly a consistency check on systematic errors related to resolution for non-lensed AGNs. However, the number of known lensed AGNs is expected to increase dramatically in the next few years, through dedicated searches in ground- and space-based wide-field surveys, and they may become a key diagnostic of black holes and galaxy co-evolution.« 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. 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
  7. 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
  8. Abstract We present a measurement of the Hubble constant (H0) and other cosmological parameters from a joint analysis of six gravitationally lensed quasars with measured time delays. All lenses except the first are analyzed blindly with respect to the cosmological parameters. In a flat ΛCDM cosmology, we find $H_{0} = 73.3_{-1.8}^{+1.7}~\mathrm{km~s^{-1}~Mpc^{-1}}$, a $2.4{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ precision measurement, in agreement with local measurements of H0 from type Ia supernovae calibrated by the distance ladder, but in 3.1σ tension with Planck observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This method is completely independent of both the supernovae and CMB analyses. Amore »combination of time-delay cosmography and the distance ladder results is in 5.3σ tension with Planck CMB determinations of H0 in flat ΛCDM. We compute Bayes factors to verify that all lenses give statistically consistent results, showing that we are not underestimating our uncertainties and are able to control our systematics. We explore extensions to flat ΛCDM using constraints from time-delay cosmography alone, as well as combinations with other cosmological probes, including CMB observations from Planck, baryon acoustic oscillations, and type Ia supernovae. Time-delay cosmography improves the precision of the other probes, demonstrating the strong complementarity. Allowing for spatial curvature does not resolve the tension with Planck. Using the distance constraints from time-delay cosmography to anchor the type Ia supernova distance scale, we reduce the sensitivity of our H0 inference to cosmological model assumptions. For six different cosmological models, our combined inference on H0 ranges from ∼73–78 km s−1 Mpc−1, which is consistent with the local distance ladder constraints.« less
  9. Abstract We present the lens mass model of the quadruply-imaged gravitationally lensed quasar WFI2033−4723, and perform a blind cosmographical analysis based on this system. Our analysis combines (1) time-delay measurements from 14 years of data obtained by the COSmological MOnitoring of GRAvItational Lenses (COSMOGRAIL) collaboration, (2) high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope imaging, (3) a measurement of the velocity dispersion of the lens galaxy based on ESO-MUSE data, and (4) multi-band, wide-field imaging and spectroscopy characterizing the lens environment. We account for all known sources of systematics, including the influence of nearby perturbers and complex line-of-sight structure, as well as the parametrization ofmore »the light and mass profiles of the lensing galaxy. After unblinding, we determine the effective time-delay distance to be $4784_{-248}^{+399}~\mathrm{Mpc}$, an average precision of $6.6{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. This translates to a Hubble constant $H_{0} = 71.6_{-4.9}^{+3.8}~\mathrm{km~s^{-1}~Mpc^{-1}}$, assuming a flat ΛCDM cosmology with a uniform prior on Ωm in the range [0.05, 0.5]. This work is part of the H0 Lenses in COSMOGRAIL’s Wellspring (H0LiCOW) collaboration, and the full time-delay cosmography results from a total of six strongly lensed systems are presented in a companion paper (H0LiCOW XIII).« less
  10. 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