Observed time delays between images of a lensed QSO lead to the determination of the Hubble constant by Refsdal's method, provided the mass distribution in the lensing galaxy is reasonably well known. Since the two or four QSO images usually observed are woefully inadequate by themselves to provide a unique reconstruction of the galaxy mass, most previous reconstructions have been limited to simple parameterized models, which may lead to large systematic errors in the derived H0 by failing to consider enough possibilities for the mass distribution of the lens. We use nonparametric modeling of galaxy lenses to better explore physically plausible but not overly constrained galaxy mass maps, all of which reproduce the lensing observables exactly, and derive the corresponding distribution of H0's. Blind tests - in which one of us simulated galaxy lenses, lensing observables, and a value for H0 and the other applied our modeling technique to estimate H0 - indicate that our procedure is reliable. For four simulated lensed QSOs, the distributions of inferred H0 have an uncertainty of ≃ 10% at 90% confidence. Application to published observations of the two best-constrained time-delay lenses, PG 1115+080 and B1608+656, yields H0 = 61 ± 11 km s-1 Mpc-1 at 68% confidence and 61 ± 18 km s-1 Mpc-1 at 90% confidence.
- Distance scale
- Gravitational lensing
- Quasars: individual (PG 1115+080, B1608+656)