Strong lens time delay challenge. II. Results of TDC1

Kai Liao, Tommaso Treu, Phil Marshall, Christopher D. Fassnacht, Nick Rumbaugh, Gregory Dobler, Amir Aghamousa, Vivien Bonvin, Frederic Courbin, Alireza Hojjati, Neal Jackson, Vinay Kashyap, S. Rathna Kumar, Eric Linder, Kaisey Mandel, Xiao Li Meng, Georges Meylan, Leonidas A. Moustakas, Tushar P. Prabhu, Andrew Romero-WolfArman Shafieloo, Aneta Siemiginowska, Chelliah S. Stalin, Hyungsuk Tak, Malte Tewes, David Van Dyk

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114 Scopus citations


We present the results of the first strong lens time delay challenge. The motivation, experimental design, and entry level challenge are described in a companion paper. This paper presents the main challenge, TDC1, which consisted of analyzing thousands of simulated light curves blindly. The observational properties of the light curves cover the range in quality obtained for current targeted efforts (e.g., COSMOGRAIL) and expected from future synoptic surveys (e.g., LSST), and include simulated systematic errors. Seven teams participated in TDC1, submitting results from 78 different method variants. After describing each method, we compute and analyze basic statistics measuring accuracy (or bias) A, goodness of fit χ2, precision P, and success rate f. For some methods we identify outliers as an important issue. Other methods show that outliers can be controlled via visual inspection or conservative quality control. Several methods are competitive, i.e., give |A| < 0.03, P < 0.03, and χ2 < 1.5, with some of the methods already reaching sub-percent accuracy. The fraction of light curves yielding a time delay measurement is typically in the range f = 20%-40%. It depends strongly on the quality of the data: COSMOGRAIL-quality cadence and light curve lengths yield significantly higher f than does sparser sampling. Taking the results of TDC1 at face value, we estimate that LSST should provide around 400 robust time-delay measurements, each with P < 0.03 and |A| < 0.01, comparable to current lens modeling uncertainties. In terms of observing strategies, we find that A and f depend mostly on season length, while P depends mostly on cadence and campaign duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL11
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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