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We describe a procedure for modelling strong lensing galaxy clusters with parametric methods, and to rank models quantitatively using the Bayesian evidence. We use a publicly available Markov chain Monte-Carlo (MCMC) sampler ('Bayesys'), allowing us to avoid local minima in the likelihood functions. To illustrate the power of the MCMC technique, we simulate three clusters of galaxies, each composed of a cluster-scale halo and a set of perturbing galaxy-scale subhalos. We ray-trace three light beams through each model to produce a catalogue of multiple images, and then use the MCMC sampler to recover the model parameters in the three different lensing configurations. We find that, for typical Hubble Space Telescope (HST)-quality imaging data, the total mass in the Einstein radius is recovered with ~1-5% error according to the considered lensing configuration. However, we find that the mass of the galaxies is strongly degenerated with the cluster mass when no multiple images appear in the cluster centre. The mass of the galaxies is generally recovered with a 20% error, largely due to the poorly constrained cut-off radius. Finally, we describe how to rank models quantitatively using the Bayesian evidence. We confirm the ability of strong lensing to constrain the mass profile in the central region of galaxy clusters in this way. Ultimately, such a method applied to strong lensing clusters with a very large number of multiple images may provide unique geometrical constraints on cosmology.
Written for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) high-latitude survey, the exposure time calculator (ETC) works in both imaging and spectroscopic modes. In addition to the standard ETC functions (e.g. background and S/N determination), the calculator integrates over the galaxy population and forecasts the density and redshift distribution of galaxy shapes usable for weak lensing (in imaging mode) and the detected emission lines (in spectroscopic mode). The program may be useful outside of WFIRST but no warranties are made regarding its suitability for general purposes. The software is available for download; IPAC maintains a web interface for those who wish to run a small number of cases without having to download the package.