A New Window of Exploration in the Mass Spectrum: Strong Lensing by Galaxy Groups in the SL2S

Astronomy and Astrophysics (Impact Factor: 5.08). 12/2008; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200811473
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT The existence of strong lensing systems with Einstein radii (Re) covering the full mass spectrum, from ~1-2" (produced by galaxy scale dark matter haloes) to >10" (produced by galaxy cluster scale haloes) have long been predicted. Many lenses with Re around 1-2" and above 10" have been reported but very few in between. In this article, we present a sample of 13 strong lensing systems with Re in the range 3"- 8", i.e. systems produced by galaxy group scale dark matter haloes, spanning a redshift range from 0.3 to 0.8. This opens a new window of exploration in the mass spectrum, around 10^{13}- 10^{14} M_{sun}, which is a crucial range for understanding the transition between galaxies and galaxy clusters. Our analysis is based on multi-colour CFHTLS images complemented with HST imaging and ground based spectroscopy. Large scale properties are derived from both the light distribution of the elliptical galaxies group members and weak lensing of the faint background galaxy population. On small scales, the strong lensing analysis yields Einstein radii between 2.5" and 8". On larger scales, the strong lenses coincide with the peak of the light distribution, suggesting that mass is traced by light. Most of the luminosity maps have complicated shapes, indicating that these intermediate mass structures are dynamically young. Fitting the reduced shear with a Singular Isothermal Sphere, we find sigma ~ 500 km/s and an upper limit of ~900 km/s for the whole sample. The mass to light ratio for the sample is found to be M/L_i ~ 250 (solar units, corrected for evolution), with an upper limit of 500. This can be compared to mass to light ratios of small groups (with sigma ~ 300 km/s and galaxy clusters with sigma > 1000 km/s, thus bridging the gap between these mass scales. Comment: A&A Accepted. Draft with Appendix images can be found at

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    ABSTRACT: Precise modelling of strong lensing systems can be affected by external mass distributions, e.g. the group or cluster within which the lens is embedded. In this article, we propose to turn this limitation to our advantage and to use precise strong lensing modelling to probe external mass distributions surrounding the lens. We consider SL2S J08544-0121, a galaxy group at z=0.35 that contains a strong lensing system. A simple elliptical isothermal potential cannot reproduce satisfactorily the strong lensing constraints. We include an external mass perturbation corresponding to the group within which the lens is embedded. The lensing properties of this perturbation are parametrised by its total mass M and a smoothing scale s that quantifies the characteristic scale over which M is distributed. For a range of these parameters, we are able to reproduce accurately the observations. This suggests that light is a good tracer of mass. Interestingly, this also shows that a localised strong lensing analysis (on scales of ~10") allows us to constrain global properties of the group as a whole (on scales of ~100). Indeed, we constrain the group mass-to-light ratio to be M/L=98+-27 (i band, solar units, not corrected for evolution) and s=20" +- 9 (2sigma confidence level). We demonstrate that these strong lensing only constraints are due to the perturbed strong lensing configuration, where the main arc is located at ~5" from the galaxy, whereas its counter-image is found at ~8". To test independently our resulting strong lensing model, we pursue an independent weak lensing analysis of the group and find a mass-to-light ratio in the range 66-146 (1sigma confidence level). Comment: accepted for publication in AandA
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    ABSTRACT: A search for 6 arcsec to 15 arcsec image separation lensing in the Jodrell Bank-Very Large Array Astrometric Survey (JVAS) and the Cosmic Lens All-Sky Survey (CLASS) by Phillips et al. found thirteen group and cluster gravitational lens candidates. Through radio and optical imaging and spectroscopy, Phillips et al. ruled out the lensing hypothesis for twelve of the candidates. In this paper, new optical imaging and spectroscopy of J0122+427, the final lens candidate from the JVAS/CLASS 6 arcsec to 15 arcsec image separation lens search, are presented. This system is found not to be a gravitational lens, but is just two radio-loud active galactic nuclei that are separated by ~10 arcsec on the sky and are at different redshifts. Therefore, it is concluded that there are no gravitational lenses in the JVAS and CLASS surveys with image separations between 6 arcsec to 15 arcsec. This result is consistent with the expectation that group- and cluster-scale dark matter haloes are inefficient lenses due to their relatively flat inner density profiles. Comment: 5 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables, accepted for publication in MNRAS
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 10/2010; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have discovered a strong lensing fossil group (J0454) at z=0.26, projected near the well-studied cluster MS0451-0305. Using multicolour Subaru/Suprime-Cam and CFHT/Megaprime imaging together with Keck spectroscopy we identify member galaxies. A VLT/FORS2 spectrum was taken to determine the redshifts of the brightest elliptical and the lensed arc. Using HST/ACS images we determine the group's weak lensing signal and model the strong lens system. This is the first time that a fossil group is analysed with lensing methods. The X-ray luminosity and temperature are derived from XMM-Newton data. We find two filaments extending over 4 Mpc, and within the virial radius we identify 31 members spectroscopically and 33 via the red sequence with i<22 mag. They segregate into spirals and a dynamically cooler central concentration of ellipticals with a velocity dispersion of 480 km/s. Weak lensing and cluster richness relations yield r200 = 830 kpc and M200 = 0.85 x 10^14 Msun. The brightest group galaxy (BGG) is inconsistent with the dynamic centre of J0454. It strongly lenses a galaxy at z~2.1, and we model the lens with a pseudo-isothermal elliptical mass distribution. A large external shear requires that the BGG must be offset from J0454's dark halo centre by at least 90-130 kpc. The X-ray halo is offset by 24 kpc from the BGG, shows no signs of a cooling flow and is well described by a beta-model. With L = 1.4 x 10^43 erg/s J0454 falls well onto standard X-ray cluster scaling relations, but appears cooler (1.1 keV) than expected (2 keV). We conclude that J0454 consists of two systems, a sparse cluster and an infalling fossil group, the latter seeding the BCG. An alternative explanation is that galaxies in a filament, projected along the line of sight, stream towards the denser fossil group.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2010; 514. · 5.08 Impact Factor

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