A Second-order Moment of Microlensing Variability as a Novel Tool to Constrain Source Emission Size or Discrete Lens Demographics in Extragalactic Research

Guerras, Eduardo; Dai, Xinyu; Mediavilla, Evencio
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The Astrophysical Journal

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We define a second-order moment of the observational differential microlensing curves that can be used to impose constraints on physical properties of lensed quasars. We show that this quantity is sensitive both to variations in the source size and the deflector mass. We formulize a methodology to recover the source size from the observational measurements when the mass spectrum is fixed. As a case study, we test it with a sample of four quadruple lenses, both in simulated scenarios and with real data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In our simulations with a uniform stellar population the method works best to detect sources around 0.1 Einstein radii, giving correct upper/lower limits for much smaller/bigger sizes without requiring a big leap in additional computational effort as compared to a single-epoch approach, yet taking advantage of multi-epoch information. We apply the method to a small sample of X-ray data from four objects assuming a range of star masses, and obtain a degeneracy relation between the source size and deflector mass. Combined with previous estimates for the size of the X-ray corona, the degeneracy relation suggests that X-ray microlensing is mainly induced by planetary mass objects.
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