Weak gravitational lensing provides a unique method to map directly the distribution of dark matter in the universe and to measure cosmological parameters. This cosmic-shear technique is based on the measurement of the weak distortions that lensing induces in the shape of background galaxies as photons travel through large-scale structures. This technique is now widely used to measure the mass distribution of galaxy clusters and has recently been detected in random regions of the sky. In this review, we present the theory and observational status of cosmic shear. We describe the principles of weak lensing and the predictions for the shear statistics in favored cosmological models. Next, we review the current measurements of cosmic shear and show how they constrain cosmological parameters. We then describe the prospects offered by upcoming and future cosmic-shear surveys as well as the technical challenges that have to be met for the promises of cosmic shear to be fully realized.
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- 25 latex pages, including 10 figures and 2 tables. to appear in Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics 2003, vol. 41