Direct shear mapping - a new weak lensing tool

C. O. De Burgh-Day, E. N. Taylor, R. L. Webster, A. M. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a new technique called direct shear mapping (DSM) to measure gravitational lensing shear directly from observations of a single background source. The technique assumes the velocity map of an unlensed, stably rotating galaxy will be rotationally symmetric. Lensing distorts the velocity map making it asymmetric. The degree of lensing can be inferred by determining the transformation required to restore axisymmetry. This technique is in contrast to traditional weak lensing methods, which require averaging an ensemble of background galaxy ellipticity measurements, to obtain a single shear measurement. We have tested the efficacy of our fitting algorithm with a suite of systematic tests on simulated data. We demonstrate that we are in principle able to measure shears as small as 0.01. In practice, we have fitted for the shear in very low redshift (and hence unlensed) velocity maps, and have obtained null result with an error of ±0.01. This high-sensitivity results from analysing spatially resolved spectroscopic images (i.e. 3D data cubes), including not just shape information (as in traditional weak lensing measurements) but velocity information as well. Spirals and rotating ellipticals are ideal targets for this new technique. Data from any large Integral Field Unit (IFU) or radio telescope is suitable, or indeed any instrument with spatially resolved spectroscopy such as the Sydney-Australian-Astronomical Observatory Multi-Object Integral Field Spectrograph (SAMI), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) and the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2161-2173
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Gravitational lensing: weak


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