Clash: Extending galaxy strong lensing to small physical scales with distant sources highly magnified by galaxy cluster members

C. Grillo, R. Gobat, V. Presotto, I. Balestra, A. Mercurio, P. Rosati, M. Nonino, E. Vanzella, L. Christensen, G. Graves, A. Biviano, D. Lemze, M. Bartelmann, N. Benitez, R. Bouwens, L. Bradley, T. Broadhurst, D. Coe, M. Donahue, H. FordL. Infante, S. Jouvel, D. Kelson, A. Koekemoer, O. Lahav, E. Medezinski, P. Melchior, M. Meneghetti, J. Merten, A. Molino, A. Monna, J. Moustakas, L. A. Moustakas, M. Postman, S. Seitz, K. Umetsu, W. Zheng, A. Zitrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We present a complex strong lensing system in which a double source is imaged five times by two early-type galaxies. We take advantage in this target of the extraordinary multi-band photometric data set obtained as part of the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) program, complemented by the spectroscopic measurements of the VLT/VIMOS and FORS2 follow-up campaign. We use a photometric redshift value of 3.7 for the source and confirm spectroscopically the membership of the two lenses to the galaxy cluster MACS J1206.2-0847 at redshift 0.44. We exploit the excellent angular resolution of the HST/ACS images to model the two lenses in terms of singular isothermal sphere profiles and derive robust effective velocity dispersion values of 97 ± 3 and 240 ± 6 km s-1. Interestingly, the total mass distribution of the cluster is also well characterized by using only the local information contained in this lensing system, which is located at a projected distance of more than 300 kpc from the cluster luminosity center. According to our best-fitting lensing and composite stellar population models, the source is magnified by a total factor of 50 and has a luminous mass of approximately (1.0 ± 0.5) × 109 M (assuming a Salpeter stellar initial mass function). By combining the total and luminous mass estimates of the two lenses, we measure luminous over total mass fractions projected within the effective radii of 0.51 ± 0.21 and 0.80 ± 0.32. Remarkably, with these lenses we can extend the analysis of the mass properties of lens early-type galaxies by factors that are approximately two and three times smaller than previously done with regard to, respectively, velocity dispersion and luminous mass. The comparison of the total and luminous quantities of our lenses with those of astrophysical objects with different physical scales, like massive early-type galaxies and dwarf spheroidals, reveals the potential of studies of this kind for improving our knowledge about the internal structure of galaxies. These studies, made possible thanks to the CLASH survey, will allow us to go beyond the current limits posed by the available lens samples in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • dark matter
  • galaxies: clusters: individual (MACS J1206.2?0847)
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: stellar content
  • galaxies: structure
  • gravitational lensing: strong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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