Weighing the giants - I. Weak-lensing masses for 51 massive galaxy clusters: Project overview, data analysis methods and cluster images

Anja Von der linden, Mark T. Allen, Douglas E. Applegate, Patrick L. Kelly, Steven W. Allen, Harald Ebeling, Patricia R. Burchat, David L. Burke, David Donovan, R. Glenn Morris, Roger Blandford, Thomas Erben, Adam Mantz

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This is the first in a series of papers in which we measure accurate weak-lensing masses for 51 of the most X-ray luminous galaxy clusters known at redshifts 0.15 {less-than or approximate} zcl {less-than or approximate} 0.7, in order to calibrate X-ray and other mass proxies for cosmological cluster experiments. The primary aim is to improve the absolute mass calibration of cluster observables, currently the dominant systematic uncertainty for cluster count experiments. Key elements of this work are the rigorous quantification of systematic uncertainties, high-quality data reduction and photometric calibration, and the 'blind' nature of the analysis to avoid confirmation bias. Our target clusters are drawn from X-ray catalogues based on the ROSAT All-Sky Survey, and provide a versatile calibration sample for many aspects of cluster cosmology. We have acquired wide-field, high-quality imaging using the Subaru Telescope and Canada-France- Hawaii Telescope for all 51 clusters, in at least three bands per cluster. For a subset of 27 clusters, we have data in at least five bands, allowing accurate photometric redshift estimates of lensed galaxies. In this paper, we describe the cluster sample and observations, and detail the processing of the SuprimeCam data to yield high-quality images suitable for robust weaklensing shape measurements and precision photometry. For each cluster, we present wide-field three-colour optical images and maps of the weak-lensing mass distribution, the optical light distribution and the X-ray emission. These provide insights into the large-scale structure in which the clusters are embedded. We measure the offsets between X-ray flux centroids and the brightest cluster galaxies in the clusters, finding these to be small in general, with a median of 20 kpc. For offsets {less-than or approximate} 100 kpc, weak-lensing mass measurements centred on the brightest cluster galaxies agree well with values determined relative to the X-ray centroids; miscentring is therefore not a significant source of systematic uncertainty for our weaklensing mass measurements. In accompanying papers, we discuss the key aspects of our photometric calibration and photometric redshift measurements (Kelly et al.), and measure cluster masses using two methods, including a novel Bayesian weak-lensing approach that makes full use of the photometric redshift probability distributions for individual backgroundgalaxies (Applegate et al.). In subsequent papers, we will incorporate these weak-lensing mass measurements into a self-consistent framework to simultaneously determine cluster scaling relations and cosmological parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-27
Number of pages26
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Cosmology: Observations
  • Galaxies: Clusters: General
  • Galaxies: Elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Gravitational lensing: Weak
  • Methods: Data analysis


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