Mass and magnification maps for the hubble space telescope frontier fields clusters: Implications for high-redshift studies

Johan Richard, Mathilde Jauzac, Marceau Limousin, Eric Jullo, Benjamin Clément, Harald Ebeling, Jean Paul Kneib, Hakim Atek, Priya Natarajan, Eiichi Egami, Rachael Livermore, Richard Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations


Extending over three Hubble Space Telescope (HST) cycles, the Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) initiative constitutes the largest commitment ever of HST time to the exploration of the distant Universe via gravitational lensing by massive galaxy clusters. Here, we present models of the mass distribution in the six HFF cluster lenses, derived from a joint strong- and weak-lensing analysis anchored by a total of 88 multiple-image systems identified in existing HST data. The resulting maps of the projected mass distribution and of the gravitational magnification effectively calibrate the HFF clusters as gravitational telescopes. Allowing the computation of search areas in the source plane, these maps are provided to the community to facilitate the exploitation of forthcoming HFF data for quantitative studies of the gravitationally lensed population of background galaxies. Our models of the gravitational magnification afforded by the HFF clusters allow us to quantify the lensing-induced boost in sensitivity over blank-field observations and predict that galaxies at z > 10 and as faint as m(AB) = 32 will be detectable, up to 2 mag fainter than the limit of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-289
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 26 2014


  • Galaxies clusters: individual: A1063S
  • Galaxies clusters: individual: Abell 370
  • Galaxies clusters: individual: MACS J0416.1-2403
  • Galaxies clusters: individual: MACS J0717.5+3745
  • Galaxies clusters: individual: MACS J1149.5+2223
  • galaxies clusters: individual: Abell 2744

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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