Microlensing Events in the Galactic Plane Using the Zwicky Transient Facility

March 2022 • 2022ApJ...927..150R

Authors • Rodriguez, Antonio C. • Mróz, Przemek • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R. • Andreoni, Igor • Bellm, Eric C. • Dekany, Richard • Drake, Andrew J. • Duev, Dmitry A. • Graham, Matthew J. • Masci, Frank J. • Prince, Thomas A. • Riddle, Reed • Shupe, David L.

Abstract • Microlensing is a powerful technique to study the Galactic population of "dark" objects such as exoplanets both bound and unbound, brown dwarfs, low-luminosity stars, old white dwarfs, and neutron stars, and it is almost the only way to study isolated stellar-mass black holes. The majority of previous efforts to search for gravitational microlensing events have concentrated toward high-density fields such as the Galactic bulge. Microlensing events in the Galactic plane have the advantage of closer proximity and better constrained relative proper motions, leading to better constrained estimates of lens mass at the expense of a lower optical depth, than events toward the Galactic bulge. We use the Zwicky Transient Facility Data Release 5 compiled from 2018-2021 to survey the Galactic plane in the region of ∣b∣ < 20°. We find a total of 60 candidate microlensing events including three that show a strong microlensing parallax effect. The rate of events traces Galactic structure, decreasing exponentially as a function Galactic longitude with scale length ℓ 0 ~ 37°. On average, we find Einstein timescales of our microlensing events to be about three times as long (~60 days) as those toward the Galactic bulge (~20 days). This pilot project demonstrates that microlensing toward the Galactic plane shows strong promise for characterization of dark objects within the Galactic disk.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist

Dave Shupe

Senior Scientist