Lens models under the microscope: Comparison of Hubble Frontier Field cluster magnification maps

Jett Priewe, Liliya L.R. Williams, Jori Liesenborgs, Dan Coe, Steven A. Rodney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Using the power of gravitational lensing magnification by massive galaxy clusters, the Hubble Frontier Fields provide deep views of six patches of the high-redshift Universe. The combination of deep Hubble imaging and exceptional lensing strength has revealed the greatest numbers of multiply-imaged galaxies available to constrain models of cluster mass distributions. However, even with O(100) images per cluster, the uncertainties associated with the reconstructions are not negligible. The goal of this paper is to show the diversity of model magnification predictions.We examine seven and nine mass models of Abell 2744 and MACS J0416, respectively, submitted to the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes for public distribution in 2015 September. The dispersion between model predictions increases from 30 per cent at common low magnifications (μ ~ 2) to 70 per cent at rare high magnifications (μ ~ 40). MACS J0416 exhibits smaller dispersions than Abell 2744 for 2 < μ < 10. We show that magnification maps based on different lens inversion techniques typically differ from each other by more than their quoted statistical errors. This suggests that some models underestimate the true uncertainties, which are primarily due to various lensing degeneracies. Though the exact mass sheet degeneracy is broken, its generalized counterpart is not broken at least in Abell 2744. Other local degeneracies are also present in both clusters. Our comparison of models is complementary to the comparison of reconstructions of known synthetic mass distributions. By focusing on observed clusters, we can identify those that are best constrained, and therefore provide the clearest view of the distant Universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1045
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 11 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Galaxies: clusters: individual: Abell 2744
  • Galaxies: clusters: individual: MACS J0416
  • Gravitational lensing: strong

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Lens models under the microscope: Comparison of Hubble Frontier Field cluster magnification maps'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this