Precision cluster mass determination from weak lensing

Mandelbaum, Rachel ; Seljak, Uroš ; Baldauf, Tobias ; Smith, Robert E.

In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2010, vol. 405, no. 3, p. 2078-2102

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    Weak gravitational lensing has been used extensively in the past decade to constrain the masses of galaxy clusters, and is the most promising observational technique for providing the mass calibration necessary for precision cosmology with clusters. There are several challenges in estimating cluster masses, particularly (a) the sensitivity to astrophysical effects and observational systematics that modify the signal relative to the theoretical expectations, and (b) biases that can arise due to assumptions in the mass estimation method, such as the assumed radial profile of the cluster. All of these challenges are more problematic in the inner regions of the cluster, suggesting that their influence would ideally be suppressed for the purpose of mass estimation. However, at any given radius the differential surface density measured by lensing is sensitive to all mass within that radius, and the corrupted signal from the inner parts is spread out to all scales. We develop a new statistic ϒ(R; R0) that is ideal for estimation of cluster masses because it completely eliminates mass contributions below a chosen scale (which we suggest should be about 20 per cent of the virial radius), and thus reduces sensitivity to systematic and astrophysical effects. We use simulated and analytical profiles including shape noise to quantify systematic biases on the estimated masses for several standard methods of mass estimation, finding that these can lead to significant mass biases that range from 10 to over 50 per cent. The mass uncertainties when using the new statistic ϒ(R; R0) are reduced by up to a factor of 10 relative to the standard methods, while only moderately increasing the statistical errors. This new method of mass estimation will enable a higher level of precision in future science work with weak lensing mass estimates for galaxy clusters