Probing the Spatial Distribution of Extrasolar Planets with Gravitational Microlensing

Cheongho Han, Young Woon Kang
2003 Astrophysical Journal  
Under the current microlensing planet search strategy of monitoring events caused by stellar-mass lenses, only planets located within a narrow region of separations from central stars can be effectively detected. However, with the dramatic increase of the monitoring frequency, two additional populations of free-floating and wide-orbit planets can be detected. In this paper, we investigate the lensing properties of events caused by wide-orbit planets and find that the light curves of a
more » ... rves of a significant fraction of these events will exhibit signatures of central stars, enabling one to distinguish them from those caused by free-floating planets. Due to the large primary/planet mass ratio, the effect of the central star endures to considerable separations. We find that for a Jupiter-mass planet the signatures of the central star can be detected with fractional deviations of > 5% from the best-fitting single-lens light curves for > 80% of events caused by bound planets with separations < 10 AU and the probability is still substantial for planets with separations up to 20 AU. Therefore, detecting a large sample of these events will provide useful information about the distribution of extrasolar planets around their central stars. Proper estimation of the probability of distinguishing events caused by wide-orbit planets from those caused by free-floating planets will be important for the correct determination of the frequency of free-floating planets, whose microlensing sample will be contaminated by wide-orbits planets.
doi:10.1086/378191 fatcat:6o4zow2pirb4tpctdaifg2q7am