Source-position transformation: an approximate invariance in strong gravitational lensing
Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Universität Bonn, auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
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Received: 19 June 2013
Accepted: 7 November 2013
The main obstacle that gravitational lensing has in determining accurate masses of deflectors, or in determining precise estimates for the Hubble constant, is the degeneracy of lensing observables with respect to the mass-sheet transformation (MST). The MST is a global modification of the mass distribution which leaves all image positions, shapes, and flux ratios invariant, but which changes the time delay. Here we show that another global transformation of lensing mass distributions exists which leaves image positions and flux ratios almost invariant, and of which the MST is a special case. As is the case for the MST, this new transformation only applies if one considers only those source components that are at the same distance from us. Whereas for axi-symmetric lenses this source position transformation exactly reproduces all strong lensing observables, it does so only approximately for more general lens situations. We provide crude estimates for the accuracy with which the transformed mass distribution can reproduce the same image positions as the original lens model, and present an illustrative example of its performance. This new invariance transformation is most likely the reason why the same strong lensing information can be accounted for with rather different mass models.
Key words: gravitational lensing: strong / cosmological parameters
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