The rate of caustic crossing microlensing events for Q2237+0305

J. S.B. Wyithe, R. L. Webster, E. L. Turner

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Spectrophotometric observations of the gravitationally microlensed quasar Q2237+0305 made during a high magnification event (HME) potentially provide a very powerful tool for probing the structure of the accretion discs of quasars, on scales of ∼10-8 arcsec. In cases where the HME is produced by a single caustic (SHME), microlensing induced changes in the spectrum during the event may be used to directly infer the source intensity profile. Several groups are actively monitoring Q2237+0305 with this goal in mind. How often we can expect to observe an HME is dependent on the lens system parameters of galactic transverse velocity, mean microlens mass and the size of the magnified continuum source. We have previously used published microlensed light curves to obtain expressions for the likelihood of the values for these parameters. Here, we use this information to investigate the expected rate of SHMEs. We find the average rate of SHMEs as well as the number that we can expect to observe over periods of a decade and of a single observing season. We find that the average SHME rate summed over all images of Q2237+0305 is in the range of 1.5 ± 0.6-6.2 ± 1.3 events per decade. During the period following a caustic crossing we find that the event rate in the corresponding image is enhanced by ∼50-100 per cent, and therefore that the overall event rate may be higher during these periods. From the distribution of events expected during a six month period we find that there is one chance in ∼4-10 of observing an SHME per observing season. The systematic dependence in these values arises from the different assumptions for smooth matter content, orientaion of the galactic transverse velocity and the size of photometric error in the monitoring data. The results support continued monitoring of Q2237+0305 with the aim of obtaining detailed spectroscopic and photometric observations of an SHME.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-344
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 21 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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