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D. P. Bennett, S. H. Rhie (University of Notre Dame)
The we present theoretical calculations which show that space-based observations of gravitational microlensing events are a very effective method for detecting terrestrial extra-solar planets. The basic physics of gravitational microlensing is explained, and we show why extra-solar planets with masses as small as that of Mars can give rise to the 5-10 microlensing planetary signals. We show that microlensing events yield accurate measurements of the star:planet mass ratio and estimates of the planetary separation that are good to about a factor of 2.
We also investigate the exoplanet detection sensitivity of space-based microlensing observations of external galaxies, such as M31 and M87. We show that microlensing observations can easily detect giant planets in external galaxies and that gravitational microlensing survey of M31 would allow us to measure the abundance of planets as a function of position in the galaxy.
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