Journal Article

The Hubble constant from galaxy lenses: impacts of triaxiality and model degeneracies

Virginia L. Corless, Benjamin M. Dobke and Lindsay J. King

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 2, pages 803-814
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13273.x
The Hubble constant from galaxy lenses: impacts of triaxiality and model degeneracies

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The Hubble constant can be constrained using the time delays between multiple images of gravitationally lensed sources. In some notable cases, typical lensing analyses assuming isothermal galaxy density profiles produce low values for the Hubble constant, inconsistent with the result of the HST Key Project (72 ± 8 km s−1Mpc−1). Possible systematics in the values of the Hubble constant derived from galaxy lensing systems can result from a number of factors, for example, neglect of environmental effects, assumption of isothermality, or contamination by line-of-sight structures. One additional potentially important factor is the triaxial structure of the lensing galaxy halo; most lens models account for halo shape simply by perturbing the projected spherical lensing potential, an approximation that is often necessary but that is inadequate at the levels of triaxiality predicted in the cold dark matter paradigm. To quantify the potential error introduced by this assumption in estimates of the Hubble parameter, we strongly lens a distant galaxy through a sample of triaxial softened isothermal haloes and use an Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to constrain the lensing halo profile and the Hubble parameter from the resulting multiple image systems. We explore the major degeneracies between the Hubble parameter and several parameters of the lensing model, finding that without a way to accurately break these degeneracies accurate estimates of the Hubble parameter are not possible. Crucially, we find that triaxiality does not significantly bias estimates of the Hubble constant, and offer an analytic explanation for this behaviour in the case of isothermal profiles. Neglected triaxial halo shape cannot contribute to the low Hubble constant values derived in a number of galaxy lens systems.

Keywords: gravitational lensing; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: haloes; cosmological parameters; cosmology: theory; dark matter

Journal Article.  8540 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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