The time delays between point-like images in gravitational lens systems can be used to measure cosmological parameters as well as probe the dark matter (sub-)structure within the lens galaxy. The number of lenses with measured time delays is growing rapidly as a result of some dedicated efforts; the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will monitor ~1000 lens systems consisting of a foreground elliptical galaxy producing multiple images of a background quasar. In an effort to assess the present capabilities of the community to accurately measure the time delays in strong gravitational lens systems, and to provide input to dedicated monitoring campaigns and future LSST cosmology feasibility studies, we invite the community to take part in a “Time Delay Challenge” (TDC). The challenge is organized as a set of “ladders”, each containing a group of simulated datasets to be analyzed blindly by participating independent analysis teams. Each rung on a ladder consists of a set of realistic mock observed lensed quasar light curves, with the rungs’ datasets increasing in complexity and realism to incorporate a variety of anticipated physical and experimental effects. The initial challenge described here has two ladders, TDC0 and TDC1. TDC0 has a small number of datasets, and is designed to be used as a practice set by the participating teams as they set up their analysis pipelines. The (non-mandatory) deadline for completion of TDC0 will be the TDC1 launch date, December 1, 2013. TDC1 will consist of some 1000 light curves, a sample designed to provide the statistical power to make meaningful statements about the sub-percent accuracy that will be required to provide competitive Dark Energy constraints in the LSST era.
Date added: Mon, 21 Oct 13