Pixel-lensing based detection of M31 planets

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Pixel-lensing based detection of M31 planets

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 7th June 2009, 8:10 pm

Pixel-lensing as a way to detect extrasolar planets in M31

Abstract wrote:We study the possibility to detect extrasolar planets in M31 through pixel-lensing observations. Using a Monte Carlo approach, we select the physical parameters of the binary lens system, a star hosting a planet, and we calculate the pixel-lensing light curve taking into account the finite source effects. Indeed, their inclusion is crucial since the sources in M31 microlensing events are mainly giant stars. Light curves with detectable planetary features are selected by looking for significant deviations from the corresponding Paczy\'{n}ski shapes. We find that the time scale of planetary deviations in light curves increase (up to 3-4 days) as the source size increases. This means that only few exposures per day, depending also on the required accuracy, may be sufficient to reveal in the light curve a planetary companion. Although the mean planet mass for the selected events is about $2 M_{\rm {Jupiter}}$, even small mass planets ($M_{\rm P} < 20 M_{\oplus}$) can cause significant deviations, at least in the observations with large telescopes. However, even in the former case, the probability to find detectable planetary features in pixel-lensing light curves is at most a few percent of the detectable events, and therefore many events have to be collected in order to detect an extrasolar planet in M31. Our analysis also supports the claim that the anomaly found in the candidate event PA-99-N2 towards M31 can be explained by a companion object orbiting the lens star.

Planet in M31 detected?

Before closing this section we note that an extrasolar planet in M31 might have been already detected since an anomaly in a pixel lensing light curve has been reported (An et al. 2004).
Accordingly, one finds a mean mass of ≃ 0.5 M⊙ for the lens and therefore a mean value of MP = 6.34 MJupiter for the planet.

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Re: Pixel-lensing based detection of M31 planets

Post by Lazarus on 10th June 2009, 6:06 pm

Well this one's hit the New Scientist.

Quite interesting... I remember an article a while back which suggested that the giant elliptical galaxy M87 might also be a good target for this sort of thing. (Be nice to know whether non-spiral galaxies can host planets too)
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