Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Can the Mass of Free-Foating ExoPlanets be Measured by Parallax?

Can the masses of isolated planetary-mass gravitational lenses be measured by terrestrial parallax?


Freeman et al


Recently Sumi et al. (2011) reported evidence for a large population of planetary-mass objects (PMOs) that are either unbound or orbit host stars in orbits greater than 10 AU. Their result was deduced from the statistical distribution of durations of gravitational microlensing events observed by the MOA collaboration during 2006 and 2007. Here we study the feasibility of measuring the mass of an individual PMO through microlensing by examining a particular event, MOA-2011-BLG-274. This event was unusual as the duration was short, the magnification high, the source-size effect large and the angular Einstein radius small. Also, it was intensively monitored from widely separated locations under clear skies at low air masses. Choi et al. (2012) concluded that the lens of the event may have been a PMO but they did not attempt a measurement of its mass. We report here a re-analysis of the event using re-reduced data. We confirm the results of Choi et al. and attempt a measurement of the mass and distance of the lens using the terrestrial parallax effect. Evidence for terrestrial parallax is found at a 3 sigma level of confidence. The best fit to the data yields the mass and distance of the lens as 0.80 +/- 0.30 M_J and 0.80 +/- 0.25 kpc respectively. We exclude a host star to the lens out to a separation ~ 40 AU. Drawing on our analysis of MOA-2011-BLG-274 we propose observational strategies for future microlensing surveys to yield sharper results on PMOs including those down to super-Earth mass.

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