Characterizing the best cosmic telescopes with the millennium simulations

K. Decker French, Kenneth C. Wong, Ann I. Zabludoff, S. Mark Ammons, Charles R. Keeton, Raul E. Angulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Certain configurations of massive structures projected along the line of sight (LOS) maximize the number of detections of gravitationally lensed z ∼ 10 galaxies. We characterize such LOSs with the étendue σμ, the area in the source plane magnified over some threshold μ. We use the Millennium I and Millennium XXL cosmological simulations to determine the frequency of high σμ beams on the sky, their properties, and efficient selection criteria. We define the best beams as having σμ > 3 > 2000 arcsec2, for a z ∼ 10 source plane, and predict 477 ± 21 such beams on the sky. The total mass in the beam and σμ > 3 are strongly correlated. After controlling for total mass, we find a significant residual correlation between σμ > 3 and the number of cluster-scale halos (>1014 M h -1) in the beam. Beams with σμ > 3 > 2000 arcsec 2, which should be best at lensing z ∼ 10 galaxies, are 10 times more likely to contain multiple cluster-scale halos than a single cluster-scale halo. Beams containing an A1689-like massive cluster halo often have additional structures along the LOS, including at least one additional cluster-scale (M 200 > 1014 M h -1) halo 28% of the time. Selecting beams with multiple, massive structures will lead to enhanced detection of the most distant and intrinsically faint galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2014


  • gravitational lensing
  • strong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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