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Studying planet populations by gravitational microlensing. (English) Zbl 1197.83025
Summary: The ‘most curious’ effect of the bending of light by the gravity of stars has evolved into a successful technique unlike any other for studying planets within the Milky Way and even other galaxies. With a sensitivity to cool planets around low-mass stars even below the mass of Earth, gravitational microlensing fits in between other planet search techniques to form a complete picture of planet parameter space, which is required to understand their origin in general, that of habitable planets more particularly, and that of planet Earth especially. Current campaigns need to evolve from first detections to obtaining a sample with well-understood selection bias that allows to draw firm conclusions about the planet populations. With planetary signals being a transient phenomenon, gravitational microlensing is a driver for new technologies in scheduling and management of non-proprietary heterogeneous telescope networks, and can serve to demonstrate forefront science live to the general public.

83C10 Equations of motion in general relativity and gravitational theory
85A05 Galactic and stellar dynamics
Full Text: DOI
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