Measuring polarization in microlensing events

January 2015 • 2015MNRAS.446.1090I

Authors • Ingrosso, G. • Calchi Novati, S. • De Paolis, F. • Jetzer, Ph. • Nucita, A. A. • Strafella, F.

Abstract • We reconsider the polarization of the star light that may arise during microlensing events due to the high gradient of magnification across the atmosphere of the source star, by exploring the full range of microlensing and stellar physical parameters. Since it is already known that only cool evolved giant stars give rise to the highest polarization signals, we follow the model by Simmons et al. to compute the polarization as due to the photon scattering on dust grains in the stellar wind. Motivated by the possibility to perform a polarization measurement during an ongoing microlensing event, we consider the recently reported event catalogue by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) collaboration covering the 2001-2009 campaigns (OGLE-III events), that makes available the largest and more comprehensive set of single-lens microlensing events towards the Galactic bulge. The study of these events, integrated by a Monte Carlo analysis, allows us to estimate the expected polarization profiles and to predict for which source stars and at which time is most convenient to perform a polarization measurement in an ongoing event. We find that about two dozens of OGLE-III events (about 1 per cent of the total) have maximum polarization degree in the range 0.1 < Pmax < 1 per cent, corresponding to source stars with apparent magnitude I ≲ 14.5, being very cool red giants. This signal is measurable by using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph (FORS2) polarimeter at Very Large Telescope (VLT) telescope with about 1 h integration time.


IPAC Authors


Sebastiano Calchi Novati

Associate Scientist