We present a new Milky Way microlensing simulation code, dubbed PopSyCLE (Population Synthesis for Compact object Lensing Events). PopSyCLE is the first resolved microlensing simulation to include a compact object distribution derived from numerical supernovae explosion models and both astrometric and photometric microlensing effects. We demonstrate the capabilities of PopSyCLE by investigating the optimal way to find black holes (BHs) with microlensing. Candidate BHs have typically been selected from wide-field photometric microlensing surveys, such as OGLE, by selecting events with long Einstein crossing times (t E > 120 days). These events can be selected at closest approach and monitored astrometrically in order to constrain the mass of each lens; PopSyCLE predicts a BH detection rate of ∼40% for such a program. We find that the detection rate can be enhanced to ∼ 85% by selecting events with both t E > 120 days and a microlensing parallax of π E < 0.08. Unfortunately, such a selection criterion cannot be applied during the event as π E requires both pre-and post-peak photometry. However, historical microlensing events from photometric surveys can be revisited using this new selection criteria in order to statistically constrain the abundance of BHs in the Milky Way. The future WFIRST microlensing survey provides both precise photometry and astrometry and will yield individual masses of O(100 − 1000) black holes, which is at least an order of magnitude more than is possible with individual candidate follow-up with current facilities. The resulting sample of BH masses from WFIRST will begin to constrain the shape of the black hole present-day mass function, BH multiplicity, and BH kick velocity distributions.
This supplement provides supporting material for Lam et al. We briefly summarize past gravitational microlensing searches for black holes (BHs) and present details of the observations, analysis, and modeling of five BH candidates observed with both ground-based photometric microlensing surveys and Hubble Space Telescope astrometry and photometry. We present detailed results for four of the five candidates that show no or low probability for the lens to be a BH. In these cases, the lens masses are <2 M ⊙, and two of the four are likely white dwarfs or neutron stars. We also present detailed methods for comparing the full sample of five candidates to theoretical expectations of the number of BHs in the Milky Way (∼108).
We present the analysis of five black hole candidates identified from gravitational microlensing surveys. Hubble Space Telescope astrometric data and densely sampled light curves from ground-based microlensing surveys are fit with a single-source, single-lens microlensing model in order to measure the mass and luminosity of each lens and determine if it is a black hole. One of the five targets (OGLE-2011-BLG-0462/MOA-2011-BLG-191 or OB110462 for short) shows a significant >1 mas coherent astrometric shift, little to no lens flux, and has an inferred lens mass of 1.6–4.4 M ⊙. This makes OB110462 the first definitive discovery of a compact object through astrometric microlensing and it is most likely either a neutron star or a low-mass black hole. This compact-object lens is relatively nearby (0.70–1.92 kpc) and has a slow transverse motion of <30 km s−1. OB110462 shows significant tension between models well fit to photometry versus astrometry, making it currently difficult to distinguish between a neutron star and a black hole. Additional observations and modeling with more complex system geometries, such as binary sources, are needed to resolve the puzzling nature of this object. For the remaining four candidates, the lens masses are <2M ⊙, and they are unlikely to be black holes; two of the four are likely white dwarfs or neutron stars. We compare the full sample of five candidates to theoretical expectations on the number of black holes in the Milky Way (∼108) and find reasonable agreement given the small sample size.
Microlensing surveys have discovered thousands of events, with almost all events discovered within the Galactic bulge or toward the Magellanic Clouds. The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), while not designed to be a microlensing campaign, is an optical time-domain survey that observes the entire northern sky, including the Galactic plane, every few nights. The ZTF observes ∼109 stars in the g and r bands and can significantly contribute to the observed microlensing population. We predict that the ZTF will observe ∼1100 microlensing events in 3 yr of observing within 10° latitude of the Galactic plane, with ∼500 events in the outer Galaxy (ℓ ≥ 10°). This yield increases to ∼1400 (∼800) events by combining every three ZTF exposures, ∼1800 (∼900) events if the ZTF observes for a total of 5 yr, and ∼2400 (∼1300) events for a 5 yr survey with postprocessing image stacking. Using the microlensing modeling software PopSyCLE, we compare the microlensing populations in the Galactic bulge and the outer Galaxy. We also present an analysis of the microlensing event ZTF18abhxjmj to demonstrate how to leverage these population statistics in event modeling. The ZTF will constrain Galactic structure, stellar populations, and primordial black holes through photometric microlensing.
We present Stellar Population Interface for Stellar Evolution and Atmospheres (SPISEA), an open-source Python package that simulates simple stellar populations. The strength of SPISEA is its modular interface which offers the user control of 13 input properties including (but not limited to) the initial mass function, stellar multiplicity, extinction law, and the metallicity-dependent stellar evolution and atmosphere model grids used. The user also has control over the initial–final mass relation in order to produce compact stellar remnants (black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs). We demonstrate several outputs produced by the code, including color–magnitude diagrams, HR-diagrams, luminosity functions, and mass functions. SPISEA is object-oriented and extensible, and we welcome contributions from the community. The code and documentation are available on GitHub (https://github.com/astropy/SPISEA) and ReadtheDocs (https://spisea.readthedocs.io/en/latest/), respectively.
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