Constraints on cold H2 clouds from gravitational microlensing searches

R. R. Rafikov, B. T. Draine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that the Galaxy might contain a population of cold clouds in numbers sufficient to account for a substantial fraction of the total mass of the Galaxy. These clouds would have masses of ∼10-3 M and sizes ∼10 AU. Here we consider the lensing effects of such clouds on the light from background stars. We develop a semianalytical formalism for calculating the magnification event rate produced by such gaseous lensing, taking into account the spatial distribution of the dark matter in the Galaxy, the velocity distribution of the lensing clouds and source stars, and motion of the observer. Event rates are calculated for the case of gaseous lensing of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and results are directly compared with the results of the search for gravitational microlensing events undertaken by the MACHO collaboration. The MACHO experiment strongly constrains the properties of the proposed molecular clouds, but does not completely rule them out. Future monitoring programs will either detect or more strongly constrain this proposed population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: halos
  • Galaxy: halo
  • Gravitational lensing
  • ISM: clouds


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