J. R. Lu, E. Sinukoff, E. O. Ofek, A. Udalski, S. Kozlowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While dozens of stellar-mass black holes (BHs) have been discovered in binary systems, isolated BHs have eluded detection. Their presence can be inferred when they lens light from a background star. We attempt to detect the astrometric lensing signatures of three photometrically identified microlensing events, OGLE-2011-BLG-0022, OGLE-2011-BLG-0125, and OGLE-2012-BLG-0169 (OB110022, OB110125, and OB120169), located toward the Galactic Bulge. These events were selected because of their long durations, which statistically favors more massive lenses. Astrometric measurements were made over one to two years using laser-guided adaptive optics observations from the W. M. Keck Observatory. Lens model parameters were first constrained by the photometric light curves. The OB120169 light curve is well fit by a single-lens model, while both OB110022 and OB110125 light curves favor binary lens models. Using the photometric fits as prior information, no significant astrometric lensing signal was detected and all targets were consistent with linear motion. The significant lack of astrometric signal constrains the lens mass of OB110022 to 0.05-1.79 M o in a 99.7% confidence interval, which disfavors a BH lens. Fits to OB110125 yielded a reduced Einstein crossing time and insufficient observations during the peak, so no mass limits were obtained. Two degenerate solutions exist for OB120169, which have a lens mass between 0.2-38.8 M o and 0.4-39.8 M o for a 99.7% confidence interval. Follow-up observations of OB120169 will further constrain the lens mass. Based on our experience, we use simulations to design optimal astrometric observing strategies and show that with more typical observing conditions the detection of BHs is feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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