Volume 416, Number 1, March II 2004
|Page(s)||19 - 34|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||26 February 2004|
Astrometric microlensing of quasars
Dependence on surface mass density and external shear
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, Traverse du Siphon, 13376 Marseille, France e-mail: email@example.com
2 Universität Potsdam, Institut für Physik, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14467 Potsdam, Germany
Corresponding author: J. Wambsganss, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 9 November 2003
A small fraction of all quasars are strongly lensed and multiply imaged, with usually a galaxy acting as the main lens. Some, or maybe all of these quasars are also affected by microlensing, the effect of stellar mass objects in the lensing galaxy. Usually only the photometric aspects of microlensing are considered: the apparent magnitudes of the quasar images vary independently because the relative motion between source, lens and observer leads to uncorrelated magnification changes as a function of time. However, stellar microlensing on quasars has yet another effect, which was first explored by Lewis & Ibata (1998): the position of the quasar – i.e. the center-of-light of the many microimages – can shift by tens of microarcseconds due to the relatively sudden (dis-)appearance of a pair of microimages when a caustic is being crossed. Here we explore quantitatively the astrometric effects of microlensing on quasars for different values of the lensing parameters κ and γ (surface mass density and external shear) covering most of the known multiple quasar systems. We show examples of microlens-induced quasar motion (i.e. astrometric changes) and the corresponding light curves for different quasar sizes. We evaluate statistically the occurrence of large “jumps” in angular position and their correlation with apparent brightness fluctuations. We also show statistical relations between positional offsets and time from random starting points. As the amplitude of the astrometric offset depends on the source size, astrometric microlensing signatures of quasars – combined with the photometric variations – will provide very good constraints on the sizes of quasars as a function of wavelength. We predict that such signatures will be detectable for realistic microlensing scenarios with near future technology in the infrared/optical (Keck-Interferometry, VLTI, SIM, GAIA). Such detections will show that not even high redshift quasars define a “fixed” coordinate system.
Key words: cosmology: observations / gravitational lensing / galaxies: quasars: general / astrometry
© ESO, 2004
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