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Astron. Astrophys. 324, 843-856 (1997)

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6. Conclusion

On the basis of data taken during two autums at the 2 metre telescope Bernard Lyot at Pic du Midi, AGAPE has proven that the pixel method works. Super-pixels, taken [FORMULA] large to minimise the effect of seeing variations, have a level of fluctuation not larger than 1.7 times the photon noise. On the brightest super-pixels this fluctuation is not more than 0.1% of the photon background. With such a stability, our simulations predict that we should see around 10 events in the direction of M 31 for lenses with [FORMULA] masses, an event being called detectable if its light curve remains 3 [FORMULA] above the background for at least 3 consecutive points and reaches 5 [FORMULA] at one of them. Such variations are clearly detectable from their time coherence, even if more work is needed to separate microlensing events from other kind of variations. We are already detecting hundreds of variable stellar object in M 31, in particular cepheids and novae. They are currently beeing analysed.

To exploit the full power of our method, we are exploring the possibilities of launching an observation with a wide field camera on an instrument where we could get a very regular and short time sampling, and a lever arm of several years. We would then be able to make a map of the halo of M 31, which would be of considerable interest for halo model builders.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: May 5, 1998