Microlensing Network for the Detection of Small Terrestrial Exoplanets

Lake of the Woods, United States

Microlensing Network for the Detection of Small Terrestrial Exoplanets

Lake of the Woods, United States
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Bachelet E.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Fouque P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Han C.,Microlensing Follow Up Network | Han C.,Chungbuk National University | And 160 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2012

Context. Caustic crossing is the clearest signature of binary lenses in microlensing. In the present context, this signature is diluted by the large source star but a detailed analysis has allowed the companion signal to be extracted. Aims. MOA 2009-BLG-411 was detected on August 5, 2009 by the MOA-Collaboration. Alerted as a high-magnification event, it was sensitive to planets. Suspected anomalies in the light curve were not confirmed by a real-time model, but further analysis revealed small deviations from a single lens extended source fit. Methods. Thanks to observations by all the collaborations, this event was well monitored. We first decided to characterize the source star properties by using a more refined method than the classical one: we measure the interstellar absorption along the line of sight in five different passbands (VIJHK). Secondly, we model the lightcurve by using the standard technique: make (s,q,α) grids to look for local minima and refine the results by using a downhill method (Markov chain Monte Carlo). Finally, we use a Galactic model to estimate the physical properties of the lens components. Results. We find that the source star is a giant G star with radius 9 R ·. The grid search gives two local minima, which correspond to the theoretical degeneracy s s-1. We find that the lens is composed of a brown dwarf secondary of mass MS = 0.05 M· orbiting a primary M-star of mass MP = 0.18 M·. We also reveal a new mass-ratio degeneracy for the central caustics of close binaries. Conclusions. As far as we are aware, this is the first detection using the microlensing technique of a binary system in our Galaxy composed of an M-star and a brown dwarf. © 2012 ESO.


Fouque P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Heyrovsky D.,Charles University | Dong S.,Microlensing Follow Up Network | Dong S.,Ohio State University | And 144 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2010

Context. Not only is gravitational microlensing a successful tool for discovering distant exoplanets, but it also enables characterization of the lens and source stars involved in the lensing event. Aims. In high-magnification events, the lens caustic may cross over the source disk, which allows determination of the angular size of the source and measurement of its limb darkening. Methods. When such extended-source effects appear close to maximum magnification, the resulting light curve differs from the characteristic Paczyński point-source curve. The exact shape of the light curve close to the peak depends on the limb darkening of the source. Dense photometric coverage permits measurement of the respective limb-darkening coefficients. Results. In the case of the microlensing event OGLE 2008-BLG-290, the K giant source star reached a peak magnification at about 100. Thirteen different telescopes have covered this event in eight different photometric bands. Subsequent light-curve analysis yielded measurements of linear limb-darkening coefficients of the source in six photometric bands. The best-measured coefficients lead to an estimate of the source effective temperature of about 4700$^{+100}-{-200}$ K. However, the photometric estimate from colour-magnitude diagrams favours a cooler temperature of 4200 ± 100 K. Conclusions. Because the limb-darkening measurements, at least in the CTIO/SMARTS2 Vs- and Is-bands, are among the most accurate obtained, the above disagreement needs to be understood. A solution is proposed, which may apply to previous events where such a discrepancy also appeared. © 2010 ESO.


News Article | December 14, 2016
Site: phys.org

Unlike other methods of detecting exoplanets, microlensing is most sensitive when it comes to searching for exoworlds that orbit around one to 10 AU away from their host stars. These planets are of special interest for astronomers studying planetary formation theories due to proximity to their parent stars, within the so-called "snow line." Just beyond this line, the most active planet formation occurs; therefore, understanding the distribution of exoplanets in this region could offer important clues to how planets form. So far, 47 planets have been discovered by microlensing. Currently, several ground-based observation programs routinely monitor dense stellar fields to search for microlensing events. When a new event is discovered, an alert to the broader scientific community is issued in order to allow follow-up observations. Astronomers are particularly interested in events showing evidence for perturbations that could be due to the presence of a planet, or which are predicted to have a high sensitivity to such perturbations. OGLE-2014-BLG-0676, discovered in April 2014 by a Polish astronomical project called the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), is one of those interesting microlensing events. Recently, a collaboration of researchers consisting of the OGLE group, the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA), the Wise Observatory Group and the Microlensing Network for the Detection of Small Terrestrial Exoplanets (MiNDSTEp), has detected an anomalous signal in this event consistent with a planetary lens system. "The source star passed through the central caustic, with the second caustic crossing being well recorded by the MOA microlensing survey collaboration. Observations at epochs between the unrecorded first caustic crossing and the second caustic crossing were made by the OGLE, Wise and MOA collaborations. (…) All analyses of the light curve data favor a lens system comprising a planetary mass orbiting a host star," the paper reads. According to the research, the newly discovered planet has a mass of about 3.1 Jupiter masses and orbits its parent star at a deprojected orbital separation of about 4.4 AU. The host star is approximately 38 percent less massive than our sun and was classified as a K-dwarf. The distance to the lens system is about 7,200 light years. Moreover, the team revealed some information about the source star. They revealed that is rather faint and very red, noting that there is a possibility that the source may be blended with a nearby red star, causing an incorrect identification of the source star type. In conclusion, the scientists emphasize the importance of their discovery, noting that OGLE-2014-BLG-0676Lb could serve as a test bed for planet formation scenarios. "Planet OGLE-2014-BLG-0676Lb can be added to the growing list of planets discovered by microlensing against which planetary formation theories can be tested," the researchers wrote in the paper. More information: N. J. Rattenbury et al. Faint source star planetary microlensing: the discovery of the cold gas giant planet OGLE-2014-BLG-0676Lb, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw3185 , On Arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.03511 Abstract We report the discovery of a planet —- OGLE-2014-BLG-0676Lb —- via gravitational microlensing. Observations for the lensing event were made by the MOA, OGLE, Wise, RoboNET/LCOGT, MiNDSTEp and μFUN groups. All analyses of the light curve data favour a lens system comprising a planetary mass orbiting a host star. The most favoured binary lens model has a mass ratio between the two lens masses of (4.78±0.13)×10−3. Subject to some important assumptions, a Bayesian probability density analysis suggests the lens system comprises a 3.09+1.02−1.12 M_jup planet orbiting a 0.62+0.20−0.22 M_sun host star at a deprojected orbital separation of 4.40+2.16−1.46 AU. The distance to the lens system is 2.22+0.96−0.83 kpc. Planet OGLE-2014-BLG-0676Lb provides additional data to the growing number of cool planets discovered using gravitational microlensing against which planetary formation theories may be tested. Most of the light in the baseline of this event is expected to come from the lens and thus high-resolution imaging observations could confirm our planetary model interpretation.

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