Microlensing by the Galactic bar

Hongsheng Zhao, David N. Spergel, R. Michael Rich

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102 Scopus citations


We compute the optical depth and duration distribution of microlensing events toward Baade's window in a model composed of a Galactic disk and a bar. The bar model is a self-consistent dynamical model built out of individual orbits that has been populated to be consistent with the COBE maps of the Galaxy and kinematic observations of the Galactic bulge. We find that most of the lenses are in the bulge with a line-of-sight distance 6.25 kpc (adopting R0 = 8 kpc). The microlensing optical depth of a 2 × 1010 M bar plus a truncated disk is (2.2 ± 0.45) × 10-6, consistent with the large optical depth (3.2 ± 1.2) × 10-6 found by Udalski et al. (1994). This model optical depth is enhanced over the predictions of axisymmetric models by Kiraga & Paczyński (1994) by slightly more than a factor of 2, since the bar is elongated along the line of sight. The large Einstein radius and small transverse velocity dispersion also predict a longer event duration in the self-consistent bar model than in the Kiraga-Paczyński model. The event rate and duration distribution also depend on the lower mass cutoff of the lens mass function. With a 0.1 M cutoff, five to seven events (depending on the contribution of disk lenses) with a logarithmic mean duration of 20 days are expected for the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) according to our model, while Udalski et al. (1994) observed nine events with durations from 8 to 62 days. On the other hand, if most of the lenses are brown dwarfs, our model predicts too many short-duration events. A Kolmogorov-Smirnov test finds only 7% probability for the model with 0.01 M cutoff to be consistent with current data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L13-L16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - Feb 10 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxy: structure
  • Gravitational lensing
  • Stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs


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