Strong lensing in the MareNostrum Universe: biases in the cluster lens population

Research paper by Massimo Meneghetti, Cosimo Fedeli, Francesco Pace, Stefan Gottloeber, Gustavo Yepes

Indexed on: 23 Mar '10Published on: 23 Mar '10Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics


Strong lensing is one of the most direct probes of the mass distribution in the inner regions of galaxy clusters. It can be used to constrain the density profiles and to measure the mass of the lenses. Moreover, the abundance of strong lensing events can be used to constrain the structure formation and the cosmological parameters through the so-called "arc-statistics" approach. However, several issues related to the usage of strong lensing clusters in cosmological applications are still controversial, leading to the suspect that several biases may affect this very peculiar class of objects. With this study we aim at better understanding the properties of galaxy clusters which can potentially act as strong lenses. We do so by investigating the properties of a large sample of galaxy clusters extracted from the N-body/hydrodynamical simulation MareNostrum Universe. We explore the correlation between the cross section for lensing and many properties of clusters, like the mass, the three-dimensional and projected shapes, their concentrations, the X-ray luminosity and the dynamical activity. We find that the probability of strong alignments between the major axes of the lenses and the line of sight is a growing function of the lensing cross section. In projection, the strong lenses appear rounder within R200, but we find that their cores tend to be more elliptical as the lensing cross section increases. We also find that the cluster concentrations estimated from the projected density profiles tend to be biased high. The X-ray luminosity of strong lensing clusters is higher than that of normal lenses of similar mass and redshift. This is particular significant for the least massive lenses. Finally, we find that the strongest lenses generally exhibit an excess of kinetic energy within the virial radius, indicating that they are more dynamically active than usual clusters.