Bin Chen, who works at the university's Research Computing Center, describes the yet-to-be-observed effect in the paper "Probing the Gravitational Faraday Rotation Using Quasar X-ray Microlensing
," published today in the journal Scientific Reports.
Searching for planets within binary systems is tricky for most techniques, because the light from the second star complicates the interpretation of the data, "but in gravitational microlensing
," Gould explains, "we don't even look at the light from the star-planet system.
In this case, there were two separate microlensing
events, one in 2008 that revealed the main star and suggested the presence of the planet, and one in 2010 that confirmed the presence of the planet and revealed the second star.
It's not the first planet found orbiting one star in a binary, but it is the first to be discovered with microlensing
, the temporary brightening of light from a more distant star.
Because WFIRST has such a large and sensitive field of view, it can find thousands of new exoplanets through a process called microlensing
The international study is led by the joint Japan-New Zealand-American Microlensing
Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) and the Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork (PLANET) programs, using telescopes in New Zealand and Tasmania.
But astronomers believe they may be able to detect smaller terrestrial planets, if they exist, by looking for microlensing
effects during the two rare stellar alignments.
observations have evolved into a powerful astrophysical tool for studying various objects that are inaccessible by other means.
The Observatory, which is run by the author, is also the African participant in the global CBA (Centre for Backyard Astrophysics) network under the name of CBA Pretoria and the dedicated observing station for the microlensing
follow up network (uFUN).
The theory of photometric and astrometric microlensing
In order to make the discovery, the scientists used a method called microlensing
Memorial and biographical talks are followed by presentations on black hole accretion disks, the All Sky Automated Survey, cosmic dark matter and gravitational microlensing
, the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, Paczynski's contributions to understanding gamma ray bursts, and the place of Paczynski in the history of astronomy.