Colors of Objects in the Field of the Double Quasi-Stellar Object 1146+111B,C

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Science  12 Sep 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4769, pp. 1183-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4769.1183


Color images of faint objects were used to test two hypotheses for the quasi-stellar object (QSO) pair 1146+ 111B,C: gravitational lens or massive string. Blue, red, and near-infrared CCD (charge-coupled device) images of the field of this QSO pair were examined for gravitational lens multiple-image candidates for all four QSO's in the field (B, C, D, and E). No third image of 1146+111B,C was found, down to 4 magnitudes fainter than BC. This result implies a compact lens mass distribution, if B and C are images of the same QSO. C appears to be redder than B in the wavelength region from 700 to 1100 nanometers. This raises the question of whether B and C are images of the same QSO. Three blue stellar objects of unusual color were found at plausible locations for multiple images of the other two QSO's in the field. A very red object was found at a plausible lens position. Under the hypothesis that B and C are lensed images, these color data severely restrict the possible lens models and imaged QSO multiplicities. One possibility is a compact lens mass of 4 x 1015 solar masses at a redshift of 0.8. Another is an S-shaped massive string. If the spectrum of any of the three anomalous blue objects were available, it would be possible to distinguish between these two models. However, it is difficult to fit the color and intensity data reported here to either simple string or black hole models. Overall, the simplest model consistent with all the data is the no-lens, no-string hypothesis: B and C probably are separate QSO's, but with some spectral similarities.