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A Model-Independent Characterisation of Strong Gravitational Lensing by Observables

Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Universität Heidelberg, Zentrum für Astronomie, Mönchhofstr. 12–14, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Universe 2019, 5(7), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe5070177
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 23 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Observing Gravitational Lenses: Present and Future)
When light from a distant source object, like a galaxy or a supernova, travels towards us, it is deflected by massive objects that lie in its path. When the mass density of the deflecting object exceeds a certain threshold, multiple, highly distorted images of the source are observed. This strong gravitational lensing effect has so far been treated as a model-fitting problem. Using the observed multiple images as constraints yields a self-consistent model of the deflecting mass density and the source object. As several models meet the constraints equally well, we develop a lens characterisation that separates data-based information from model assumptions. The observed multiple images allow us to determine local properties of the deflecting mass distribution on any mass scale from one simple set of equations. Their solution is unique and free of model-dependent degeneracies. The reconstruction of source objects can be performed completely model-independently, enabling us to study galaxy evolution without a lens-model bias. Our approach reduces the lens and source description to its data-based evidence that all models agree upon, simplifies an automated treatment of large datasets, and allows for an extrapolation to a global description resembling model-based descriptions. View Full-Text
Keywords: cosmology; dark matter; gravitational lensing; strong; methods; analytical; galaxy clusters; general; galaxies; mass function; methods; data analysis; cosmology; distance scale cosmology; dark matter; gravitational lensing; strong; methods; analytical; galaxy clusters; general; galaxies; mass function; methods; data analysis; cosmology; distance scale
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Wagner, J. A Model-Independent Characterisation of Strong Gravitational Lensing by Observables. Universe 2019, 5, 177.

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