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Monna, Anna (2015): Investigating galaxies in and behind Galaxy Clusters using Strong Gravitational Lensing. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Physics



Gravitational Lensing is a unique technique to investigate the dark matter distribution of structures in the Universe, from galaxies, through galaxy groups, clusters, up to the large-scale structure. It allows us to map the total projected mass density of structures acting as lenses, and thus to shed light on the distribution and properties of the otherwise-invisible dark matter. Clusters of galaxies are the largest virialized structures in the universe. Gravitational lensing analysis allows us to study their mass distribution in great detail. Weak lensing probes the mass distribution in the outskirts of clusters based on a statistical analysis of the shape distortion observed in hundreds of galaxies behind the cluster. Strong lensing, instead, allows us to reconstruct high resolution mass and magnification maps of the central region of the cluster. In addition, thanks to the lensing magnification of background sources, galaxy clusters act as "Gravitational Telescopes" and can be used to investigate the galaxy population of the early Universe at z>5. In the first part of my Thesis I use the CLASH and Frontier Fields cluster RXC J2248 to investigate sources at z~6. At such and higher redshift galaxies appear as optical dropouts, since the light they emit is redshifted to NIR wavelengths and no flux is observed in the UV and optical filters. I discovered a z~6 lensed galaxy in the core of RXC J2248 which appears as a quintuple lensed optical dropout in the 16 HST filters of the CLASH survey. I perform a detailed photometric analysis of these dropouts to verify that they present the same photometric properties and are actually multiple images of the same source. In addition, by performing the strong lensing analysis of the cluster core I verify that the lensing model supports the quintuple and z~6 nature of this system. In the second part of my Thesis I use strong gravitational analysis of the CLASH cluster A383 to probe the details of the mass distribution of galaxies in the cluster core. Well known luminosity scaling relations allow us to relate the physical properties as stellar velocity dispersion and size of the elliptical galaxies to their observed luminosity. However in clusters, galaxies suffer tidal stripping due to the interaction with other cluster members and the cluster dark matter halo. The goal of this work is to measure the galaxy halo sizes in a cluster core to quantify how much mass was stripped relative to field galaxies. Here I present a new approach to strong lensing analysis of clusters, in which I use measurements of cluster members' velocity dispersions as additional constraints in the lens modeling. I apply this analysis to Abell 383 to separate the galaxy mass content from the smooth dark matter mass component and investigate how the dark matter halo size scales with the galaxy luminosity in the cluster core. In addition I perform the surface brightness reconstruction of the southern giant arcs to improve constraints on close by individual galaxies and study possible deviations from the global scaling law measured for the cluster.