New Self-lensing Models of the Small Magellanic Cloud: Can Gravitational Microlensing Detect Extragalactic Exoplanets?
We use three-dimensional distributions of classical Cepheids and RR~Lyrae stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) to model the stellar density distribution of a young and old stellar population in that galaxy. We use these models to estimate the microlensing self-lensing optical depth to the SMC, which is in excellent agreement with the observations... Our models are consistent with the total stellar mass of the SMC of about 1.0 x 10^9 MSun under the assumption that all microlensing events toward this galaxy are caused by self-lensing. We also calculate the expected event rates and estimate that future large-scale surveys, like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), will be able to detect up to a few dozen microlensing events in the SMC annually. If the planet frequency in the SMC is similar to that in the Milky Way, a few extragalactic planets can be detected over the course of the LSST survey, provided significant changes in the SMC observing strategy are devised. A relatively small investment of LSST resources can give us a unique probe of the population of extragalactic exoplanets. read morePDF Abstract