Microlensing observations have now become a useful tool in searching for non--luminous astrophysical compact objects (brown dwarfs, faint stars, neutron stars, black holes and even planets). Originally conceived for establishing whether the halo of the Galaxy is composed of this type of objects, the ongoing searches are actually also sensitive to the dark constituents of other Galactic components (thin and thick disks, outer spheroid, bulge). We discuss here the present searches for microlensing of stars in the Magellanic Clouds and in the Galactic bulge (EROS, MACHO, OGLE and DUO collaborations). We analyse the information which can be obtained regarding the spatial distribution and motion of the lensing objects as well as about their mass function and their overall contribution to the mass of the Galaxy. We also discuss the additional signals, such as the parallax due to the motion of the Earth, the effects due to the finite source size and the lensing events involving binary objects, which can further constrain the lens properties. We describe the future prospects for these searches and the further proposed observations which could help to elucidate these issues, such as microlensing of stars in the Andromeda galaxy, satellite parallax measurements and infrared observations.
- Pub Date:
- January 1997
- High Energy Physics - Phenomenology
- Latex file, 59 p., 13 ps figures, to appear in Physics Reports (postcript file replaced by latex file)