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    Gravitational time delays provide a powerful one-step measurement of H0, independent of all other probes. One key ingredient in time-delay cosmography are high-accuracy lens models. Those are currently expensive to obtain, both, in terms of computing and investigator time (105–106 CPU hours and ∼0.5–1 yr, respectively). Major improvements in modelling speed are therefore necessary to exploit the large number of lenses that are forecast to be discovered over the current decade. In order to bypass this roadblock, we develop an automated modelling pipeline and apply it to a sample of 31 lens systems, observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in multiple bands. Our automated pipeline can derive models for 30/31 lenses with few hours of human time and <100 CPU hours of computing time for a typical system. For each lens, we provide measurements of key parameters and predictions of magnification as well as time delays for the multiple images. We characterize the cosmography-readiness of our models using the stability of differences in the Fermat potential (proportional to time delay) with respect to modelling choices. We find that for 10/30 lenses, our models are cosmography or nearly cosmography grade (<3 per cent and 3–5 per cent variations). For 6/30 lenses, the models are close to cosmography grade (5–10 per cent). These results utilize informative priors and will need to be confirmed by further analysis. However, they are also likely to improve by extending the pipeline modelling sequence and options. In conclusion, we show that uniform cosmography grade modelling of large strong lens samples is within reach.

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    Strongly lensed quasars can provide measurements of the Hubble constant (H0) independent of any other methods. One of the key ingredients is exquisite high-resolution imaging data, such as Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging and adaptive-optics (AO) imaging from ground-based telescopes, which provide strong constraints on the mass distribution of the lensing galaxy. In this work, we expand on the previous analysis of three time-delay lenses with AO imaging (RX J1131−1231, HE 0435−1223, and PG 1115+080), and perform a joint analysis of J0924+0219 by using AO imaging from the Keck telescope, obtained as part of the Strong lensing at High Angular Resolution Program (SHARP) AO effort, with HST imaging to constrain the mass distribution of the lensing galaxy. Under the assumption of a flat Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model with fixed Ωm = 0.3, we show that by marginalizing over two different kinds of mass models (power-law and composite models) and their transformed mass profiles via a mass-sheet transformation, we obtain $\Delta t_{\rm BA}=6.89\substack{+0.8\\-0.7}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, $\Delta t_{\rm CA}=10.7\substack{+1.6\\-1.2}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, and $\Delta t_{\rm DA}=7.70\substack{+1.0\\-0.9}\, h^{-1}\hat{\sigma }_{v}^{2}$ d, where $h=H_{0}/100\,\rm km\, s^{-1}\, Mpc^{-1}$ is the dimensionless Hubble constant and $\hat{\sigma }_{v}=\sigma ^{\rm ob}_{v}/(280\,\rm km\, s^{-1})$ is the scaled dimensionless velocity dispersion. Future measurements of time delays with 10 per cent uncertainty and velocity dispersion with 5 per cent uncertainty would yield a H0 constraint of ∼15 per cent precision.

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  3. Context.Time-delay cosmography uses strong gravitational lensing of a time-variable source to infer the Hubble constant. The measurement is independent from both traditional distance ladder and CMB measurements. An accurate measurement with this technique requires considering the effects of objects along the line of sight outside the primary lens, which is quantified by the external convergence (κext). In absence of such corrections,H0will be biased towards higher values in overdense fields and lower values in underdense fields.

    Aims.We discuss the current state of the methods used to account for environment effects. We present a new software package built for this kind of analysis and others that can leverage large astronomical survey datasets. We apply these techniques to the SDSS J0924+0219 strong lens field.

    Methods.We infer the relative density of the SDSS J0924+0219 field by computing weighted number counts for all galaxies in the field, and comparing to weighted number counts computed for a large number of fields in a reference survey. We then compute weighted number counts in the Millennium Simulation and compare these results to infer the external convergence of the lens field.

    Results.Our results show the SDSS J0924+0219 field is a fairly typical line of sight, with medianκext = −0.012 and standard deviationσκ = 0.028.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  5. We have measured the redshifts and single-aperture velocity dispersions of eight lens galaxies using the data collected by the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) and Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS) at W.M. Keck observatory on different observing nights spread over three years (2018–2020). These results, combined with other ancillary data, such as high-resolution images of the lens systems, and time delays, are necessary to increase the sample size of the quasar-galaxy lens systems for which the Hubble constant can be measured, using the time-delay strong lensing method, hence increasing the precision of its inference. Typically, the 2D spectra of the quasar-galaxy lens systems get spatially blended due to seeing by ground-based observations. As a result, the extracted lensing galaxy (deflector) spectra become significantly contaminated by quasar light, which affects the ability to extract meaningful information about the deflector. To account for spatial blending and extract less contaminated and higher signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) 1D spectra of the deflectors, a forward modeling method has been implemented. From the extracted spectra, we have measured redshifts using prominent absorption lines and single aperture velocity dispersions using the penalized pixel fitting code pPXF. In this paper, we report the redshifts and single aperture velocity dispersions of eight lens galaxies – J0147+4630, B0445+123, B0631+519, J0659+1629, J0818−2613, J0924+0219, J1433+6007, and J1817+2729. Among these systems, six do not have previously measured velocity dispersions; for the other two, our measurements are consistent with previously reported values. Additionally, we have measured the previously unknown redshifts of the deflectors in J0818−2613 and J1817+2729 to be 0.866 ± 0.002 and 0.408 ± 0.002, respectively.

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  6. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
    We present the status and plans for the Keck All sky Precision Adaptive optics (KAPA) program. KAPA includes (1) an upgrade to the Keck I laser guide star adaptive optics (AO) facility to improve image quality and sky coverage, (2) the inclusion of AO telemetry-based point spread function estimates with all science exposures, (3) four key science programs, and (4) an educational component focused on broadening the participation of women and underrepresented groups in instrumentation. For this conference we focus on the KAPA upgrades since the 2020 SPIE proceedings1 including implementation of a laser asterism generator, wavefront sensor, real-time controller, asterism and turbulence simulators, the laser tomography system itself along with new operations software and science tools, and modifications to an existing near-infrared tip-tilt sensor to support multiple natural guide star and focus measurements. We will also report on the results of daytime and on-sky calibrations and testing. 
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  7. ABSTRACT Astrometric precision and knowledge of the point spread function are key ingredients for a wide range of astrophysical studies including time-delay cosmography in which strongly lensed quasar systems are used to determine the Hubble constant and other cosmological parameters. Astrometric uncertainty on the positions of the multiply-imaged point sources contributes to the overall uncertainty in inferred distances and therefore the Hubble constant. Similarly, knowledge of the wings of the point spread function is necessary to disentangle light from the background sources and the foreground deflector. We analyse adaptive optics (AO) images of the strong lens system J 0659+1629 obtained with the W. M. Keck Observatory using the laser guide star AO system. We show that by using a reconstructed point spread function we can (i) obtain astrometric precision of <1 mas, which is more than sufficient for time-delay cosmography; and (ii) subtract all point-like images resulting in residuals consistent with the noise level. The method we have developed is not limited to strong lensing, and is generally applicable to a wide range of scientific cases that have multiple point sources nearby. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    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 the 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. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    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 the 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. 
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  10. null (Ed.)
    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 analysis 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. 
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