Gravitational Microlensing: An automated high-performance modelling system (2014)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury. Department of Physics and Astronomy
AuthorsMcDougall, Alistairshow all
Nightly surveys of the skies detect thousands of new gravitational microlensing events every year. With the increasing number of telescopes, and advancements of the tech- nologies used, the detection rate is growing. Of these events, those that display the characteristics of a binary lens are of particular interest. They require special atten- tion with follow-up observations if possible, as such events can lead to new planetary detections. To characterise a new planetary event, high-cadence, accurate observations are optimal. However, without the ability of repeat observations, identification that any event may be planetary needs to happen before it finishes.
I have developed a system that automatically retrieves all microlensing survey data and follow-up observations, models the events as single lenses, and publishes the results live to a web site. With minimal human interaction, the modelling system is able to identify and initialize binary events, and perform a thorough search of the seven dimensional parameter space of a binary lens. These results are also presented live through the web site, enabling observers an up to date view of the latest binary solutions.
The real-time modelling of the system enables a prompt analysis of ongoing events, providing observers with the information, to determine if further observations are desired for the modelled events.
An archive of all modelled binary lens events is maintained and accessible through the website. To date the archive contains 68 unique events’ binary lens solutions from the 2014 observing season.
The system developed has been validated through model comparisons of previously published work, and is in use during the current observing season. This year it has played a role in identifying new planetary candidate events, confirming proposed solutions, and providing alternate viable solutions to previously presented solutions.