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Session 62 - Workshop on the Future of Antarctic Astrophysics - II.
Topical, Oral session, Wednesday, June 10

[62.22] Search for Extra-Solar Planets through Monitoring Microlensing Events from Antarctica

K. C. Sahu (STScI)

During the months when the galactic bulge is visible from the southern hemisphere, there are typically about 8 to 10 on-going microlensing events at any given time. The number of on-going events is likely to increase after the real-time alert capability of OGLE II and EROS II, which is expected soon. If the lensing stars have planets around them, then the signature of the planets can be seen as sharp, extra peaks on the microlensing light curves. Thus continuous and frequent monitoring of the on-going microlensing events, with a sampling interval of a few hours, provides a powerful new method to search for planets around lensing stars.

Such monitoring programs are now being carried out using a network of 1-meter class telescopes situated at appropriately spaced longitudes in the southern hemisphere (for example, by PLANET collaboration). However, the galactic bulge is visible from the south pole throughout this period, and hence a single automated telescope at the south-pole can provide an efficient means of carrying out the monitoring program. The atmospheric conditions in the Antarctica are particularly conducive for a monitoring program in the near-IR. Many of the microlensed sources being giants, they are bright in the near-IR; so monitoring in the near-IR wavelengths will allow shorter exposures and will thus allow more events to be monitored. During many of the 'planetary' events, the source is expected to be resolved, when the chromaticity effect can be more easily detected in the near-IR. Using even a modest 1-meter telescope, about 20 events can be monitored during a single 3-month season, potentially leading to the detection of two planetary signals per season.

Program listing for Wednesday