August 2014 • 2014PhyS...89h4001I
Abstract • The light received by source stars in microlensing events may be significantly polarized if both an efficient photon-scattering mechanism is active in the source stellar atmosphere and a differential magnification is therein induced by the lensing system. The best candidate events for observing polarization are highly magnified events with source stars belonging to the class of cool, giant stars in which the stellar light is polarized by photon scattering on dust grains contained in their envelopes. The presence in the stellar atmosphere of an internal cavity devoid of dust produces polarization profiles with a two peaks structure. Hence, the time interval between them gives an important observable quantity directly related to the size of the internal cavity and to the model parameters of the lens system. We show that, during a microlensing event, the expected polarization variability can solve an ambiguity that arises in some cases, related to the binary or planetary lensing interpretation of the perturbations observed near the maximum of the event light-curve. We consider a specific event case for which the parameter values corresponding to the two solutions are given. Then, assuming a polarization model for the source star, we compute the two expected polarization profiles. The position of the two peaks appearing in the polarization curves and the characteristic time interval between them allow us to distinguish between the binary and planetary lens solutions.