Focusing cosmic telescopes: Exploring redshift z 5-6 galaxies with the bullet cluster 1E0657 56

Maruša Bradač, Tommaso Treu, Douglas Applegate, Anthony H. Gonzalez, Douglas Clowe, William Forman, Christine Jones, Phil Marshall, Peter Schneider, Dennis Zaritsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The gravitational potential of clusters of galaxies acts as a cosmic telescope allowing us to find and study galaxies at fainter limits than otherwise possible and thus probe closer to the epoch of formation of the first galaxies. We use the Bullet cluster 1E0657 - 56 (z = 0.296) as a case study, because its high mass and merging configuration makes it one of the most efficient cosmic telescopes we know. We develop a new algorithm to reconstruct the gravitational potential of the Bullet cluster based on a non-uniform adaptive grid, combining strong and weak gravitational lensing data derived from deep Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys F606W-F775W-F850LP and ground-based imaging. We exploit this improved mass map to study z ∼ 5-6 Lyman break galaxies (LBGs), which we detect as dropouts. One of the LBGs is multiply imaged, providing a geometric confirmation of its high redshift, and is used to further improve our mass model. We quantify the uncertainties in the magnification map reconstruction in the intrinsic source luminosity, and in the volume surveyed, and show that they are negligible compared to sample variance when determining the luminosity function of high-redshift galaxies. With shallower and comparable magnitude limits to Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) and Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS), the Bullet cluster observations, after correcting for magnification, probe deeper into the luminosity function of the high-redshift galaxies than GOODS and only slightly shallower than HUDF. We conclude that accurately focused cosmic telescopes are the most efficient way to sample the bright end of the luminosity function of high-redshift galaxies and - in case they are multiply imaged - confirm their redshifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1212
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: clusters: individual (1E0657-56)
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Gravitational lensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Focusing cosmic telescopes: Exploring redshift z 5-6 galaxies with the bullet cluster 1E0657 56'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this