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Journal Article

Systematic search for lensed X-ray sources in the CLASH fields


Caminha,  Gabriel Bartosch
Physical Cosmology, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Liu, A., Tozzi, P., Rosati, P., Bergamini, P., Caminha, G. B., Gilli, R., et al. (2021). Systematic search for lensed X-ray sources in the CLASH fields. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 648: A47. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202040249.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-EDE6-A
Aims. We exploit the high angular resolution of Chandra to search for unresolved X-ray emission from lensed sources in the field of view of 11 CLASH clusters, whose critical lines and amplification maps were previously obtained with accurate strong-lensing models. We consider a solid angle in the lens plane corresponding to a magnification μ > 1.5, which amounts to a total of ∼100 arcmin2, of which only 10% corresponds to μ > 10. Our main goal is to assess the efficiency of massive clusters as cosmic telescopes to explore the faint end of the X-ray extragalactic source population.
Methods. The main obstacle to this study is the overwhelming diffuse X-ray emission from the intracluster medium that encompasses the region with the strongest magnification power. To overcome this aspect, we first searched for X-ray emission from strongly lensed sources that were previously identified in the optical and then performed an untargeted detection of lensed X-ray sources.
Results. We detect X-ray emission in either in the soft (0.5−2 keV) or hard (2−7 keV) band in only 9 out of 849 lensed or background optical sources. The stacked emission of the sources without detection does not reveal any signal in any band. Based on the untargeted detection in the soft, hard, and total band images, we find 66 additional X-ray sources without spectroscopic confirmation that are consistent with being lensed (background) sources. Assuming an average redshift distribution consistent with the Chandra Deep Field South survey (CDFS), we estimate their magnification, and after accounting for completeness and sky coverage, measure the soft- and hard-band number counts of lensed X-ray sources for the first time. The results are consistent with current modeling of the population distribution of active galactic nuclei (AGN). The distribution of delensed fluxes of the sources identified in moderately deep CLASH fields reaches a flux limit of ∼10−16 and ∼10−15 erg s−1 cm−2 in the soft and hard bands, respectively, therefore approximately 1.5 orders of magnitude above the flux limit of the CDFS.
Conclusions. We conclude that in order to match the depth of the CDFS in exploiting massive clusters as cosmic telescopes, the required number of cluster fields is about two orders of magnitude larger than is offered by the 20 year Chandra archive. At the same time, the discovery of strongly lensed sources close to the critical lines remains an attractive if rare occurrence because the source density in the X-ray sky is low. A significant step forward in this field will be made when future X-ray facilities an angular resolution of ∼1 arcsec and a large effective area will allow the serendipitous discovery of rare, strongly lensed high-z X-ray sources. This will enable studying faint AGN activity in the early Universe and measuring gravitational time delays in the X-ray variability of multiply imaged AGN.