Friday, February 19, 2016

Detecting Extrasolar Asteroid Belts Through Microlensing

Detecting Extrasolar Asteroid Belts Through Their Microlensing Signatures


Lake et al


We propose that extrasolar asteroid belts can be detected through their gravitational microlensing signatures. Asteroid belt + star lens systems create so-called "pseudo-caustics", regions in the source plane where the magnification exhibits a finite but discontinuous jump. These features allow such systems to generate distinctive microlensing light curves across a wide region of belt parameter space and possess remarkably large lensing cross-sections. Sample light curves for a range of asteroid belt parameters are presented. In the near future, space-based microlensing surveys (e.g., WFIRST) may be able to discover extrasolar asteroid belts with masses of the order of 0.1M⊕.

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