TD-CARMA: Painless, Accurate, and Scalable Estimates of Gravitational Lens Time Delays with Flexible CARMA Processes

Antoine D. Meyer, David A. van Dyk, Hyungsuk Tak, Aneta Siemiginowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cosmological parameters encoding our understanding of the expansion history of the universe can be constrained by the accurate estimation of time delays arising in gravitationally lensed systems. We propose TD-CARMA, a Bayesian method to estimate cosmological time delays by modeling observed and irregularly sampled light curves as realizations of a continuous auto-regressive moving average (CARMA) process. Our model accounts for heteroskedastic measurement errors and microlensing, an additional source of independent extrinsic long-term variability in the source brightness. The semiseparable structure of the CARMA covariance matrix allows for fast and scalable likelihood computation using Gaussian process modeling. We obtain a sample from the joint posterior distribution of the model parameters using a nested sampling approach. This allows for “painless” Bayesian computation, dealing with the expected multimodality of the posterior distribution in a straightforward manner and not requiring the specification of starting values or an initial guess for the time delay, unlike existing methods. In addition, the proposed sampling procedure automatically evaluates the Bayesian evidence, allowing us to perform principled Bayesian model selection. TD-CARMA is parsimonious, and typically includes no more than a dozen unknown parameters. We apply TD-CARMA to six doubly lensed quasars HS2209+1914, SDSS J1001+5027, SDSS J1206+4332, SDSS J1515+1511, SDSS J1455+1447, and SDSS J1349+1227, estimating their time delays as −21.96 ± 1.448, 120.93 ± 1.015, 111.51 ± 1.452, 210.80 ± 2.18, 45.36 ± 1.93, and 432.05 ± 1.950, respectively. These estimates are consistent with those derived in the relevant literature, but are typically two to four times more precise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume950
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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