Discovery of the largest known lensed images formed by a critically convergent lensing cluster

Adi Zitrin, Tom Broadhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


We identify the largest known lensed images of a single spiral galaxy, lying close to the center of the distant cluster MACS J1149.5+2223 (z = 0.544). These images cover a total area of and are magnified ≃200 times. Unusually, there is very little image distortion, implying that the central mass distribution is almost uniform over a wide area (r ≃ 200 kpc) with a surface density equal to the critical density for lensing, corresponding to maximal lens magnification. Many fainter multiply lensed galaxies are also uncovered by our model, outlining a very large tangential critical curve, of radius r ≃ 170 kpc, posing a potential challenge for the standard LCDM cosmology. Because of the uniform central mass distribution, a particularly clean measurement of the mass of the brightest cluster galaxy is possible here, for which we infer stars contribute most of the mass within a limiting radius of ≃30 kpc, with a mass-to-light ratio of M/LB ≃ 4.5(M/L). This cluster with its uniform and central mass distribution acts analogously to a regular magnifying glass, converging light without distorting the images, resulting in the most powerful lens yet discovered for accessing the faint high-z universe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L132-L136
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Dark matter
  • Gravitational lensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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