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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Russell Smith

Smith, Russell J., Lucey, John R. & Edge, Alastair C. (2017). A counter-image to the gravitational arc in Abell 1201: Evidence for IMF variations, or a 1010 M⊙ black hole? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 467(1): 836-848.

Author(s) from Durham


Abell 1201 is a massive galaxy cluster at z=0.169 with a brightest cluster galaxy (BCG) that acts as a gravitational lens to a background source at z=0.451. The lensing configuration is unusual, with a single bright arc formed at small radius (∼2 arcsec), where stars and dark matter are both expected to contribute substantially to the total lensing mass. Here, we present deep spectroscopic observations of the Abell 1201 BCG with MUSE, which reveal emission lines from a faint counter-image, opposite to the main arc, at a radius of 0.6 arcsec. We explore models in which the lensing mass is described by a combination of stellar mass and a standard dark-matter halo. The counter-image is not predicted in such models, unless the dark-matter component is negligible, which would imply an extremely heavy stellar initial mass function (IMF) in this galaxy. We consider two modifications to the model which can produce the observed configuration without resorting to extreme IMFs. Imposing a radial gradient in the stellar mass-to-light ratio, ϒ, can generate a counter-image close to the observed position if ϒ increases by ≳60 per cent within the inner ∼1 arcsec (e.g. variation from a Milky-Way-like to a Salpeter-like IMF). Alternatively, the counter-image can be produced by introducing a central super-massive black hole. The required mass is MBH = (1.3±0.6)× 1010 M⊙, which is comparable to the largest black holes known to date, several of which are also hosted by BCGs. We comment on future observations which promise to distinguish between these alternatives.