Galaxy Ellipticity Measurements in the Near-infrared for Weak Lensing

October 2018 • 2018ApJ...866..157L

Authors • Lee, Bomee • Chary, Ranga-Ram • Wright, Edward L.

Abstract • We investigate the value of the near-infrared imaging from upcoming surveys for constraining the ellipticities of galaxies. We select galaxies between 0.5 ≤ z < 3 that are brighter than expected Euclid sensitivity limits from the GOODS-S and N fields in CANDELS. The co-added CANDELS/HST V+I and J+H images are degraded in resolution and sensitivity to simulate Euclid-quality optical and near-infrared (NIR) images. We then run GALFIT on these simulated images and find that optical and NIR provide similar performances in measuring galaxy ellipticities at redshifts 0.5 ≤ z < 3. At z > 1.0, the NIR-selected source density is higher by a factor of 1.4 and therefore the standard error in NIR-derived ellipticities is about 30% smaller, implying a more precise ellipticity measurement. The good performance of the NIR is mainly because galaxies have an intrinsically smoother light distribution in the NIR bands than in the optical, the latter tracing the clumpy star-forming regions. In addition, the NIR bands have a higher surface brightness per pixel than the optical images, while being less affected by dust attenuation. Despite the worse spatial sampling and resolution of Euclid NIR compared to optical, the NIR approach yields equivalent or more precise galaxy ellipticity measurements. If systematics that affect shape such as dithering strategy and point-spread function undersampling can be mitigated, inclusion of the NIR can improve galaxy ellipticity measurements over all redshifts. This is particularly important for upcoming weak lensing surveys, such as with Euclid and WFIRST.


IPAC Authors

Ranga-Ram Chary

Senior Scientist