Journal article

A new method to break the mass-sheet degeneracy using aperture moments

Mass determinations from gravitational lensing shear and the higher order estimator flexion are both subject to the mass-sheet degeneracy. Mass sheet degeneracy refers to a transformation that leaves the reduced shear and flexion invariant. In general, this transformation can be approximated by the addition of a constant surface mass density sheet. We propose a new technique to break the mass-sheet degeneracy. The method uses mass moments of the shear or flexion fields in combination with convergence information derived from number counts which exploit the magnification bias. The difference between the measured mass moments provides an estimator for the magnitude of the additive constant that is the mass sheet. For demonstrating this, we derive relations that hold true in general for nth order moments and show how they can be employed effectively to break the degeneracy. We investigate the detectability of this degeneracy parameter from our method and find that the degeneracy parameter can be feasibly determined from stacked galaxy-galaxy lensing data and cluster lensing data. Furthermore, we compare the signal-to-noise ratios of convergence information from number counts with shear and flexion for singular isothermal sphere and Navarro-Frenk-White models. We find that the combination of shear and flexion performs best on galaxy and cluster scales and the convergence information can therefore be used to break the mass-sheet degeneracy without quality loss in the mass reconstruction. In summary, there is power in the combination of shear, flexion, convergence and their higher order moments. With the anticipated wealth of lensing data from upcoming and future satellite missions - EUCLID and WFIRST - this technique will be feasible.


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