External shear in quadruply imaged lens systems

Gilbert P. Holder, Paul L. Schechter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use publicly available N-body simulations and semianalytic models of galaxy formation to estimate the levels of external shear due to structure near the lens in gravitational lens systems. We also describe two selection effects specific to four-image systems that enhance the probability that observing systems have higher external shear. Ignoring additional contributions from "cosmic shear" and assuming that lens galaxies are not significantly flattened, we find that the mean shear at the position of a quadruple lens galaxy is 0.11, the rms shear is ∼0.15, and there is a ∼45% likelihood of external shear greater than 0.1. This is much larger than previous estimates and in good agreement with typical measured external shear. The higher shear primarily stems from the tendency of early-type galaxies, which are the majority of lenses, to reside in overdense regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-692
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Gravitational lensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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