Femtolensing: Beyond the Semi-Classical Approximation

Research paper by A. Ulmer, J. Goodman

Indexed on: 16 Jun '94Published on: 16 Jun '94Published in: Astrophysics


Femtolensing is a gravitational lensing effect in which the magnification is a function not only of the positions and sizes of the source and lens, but also of the wavelength of light. Femtolensing is the only known effect of $(10^{-13}-10^{-16} M_{\sun})$ dark-matter objects and may possibly be detectable in cosmological gamma-ray burst spectra. We present a new and efficient algorithm for femtolensing calculations in general potentials. The physical-optics results presented here differ at low frequencies from the semi-classical approximation, in which the flux is attributed to a finite number of mutually coherent images. At higher frequencies, our results agree well with the semi-classical predictions. Applying our method to a point-mass lens with external shear, we find complex events that have structure at both large and small spectral resolution. In this way, we show that femtolensing may be observable for lenses up to $10^{-11}$ solar masses, much larger than previously believed. Additionally, we discuss the possibility of a search for femtolensing of white dwarfs in the LMC at optical wavelengths.