An efficient method for simulating light curves of cosmological microlensing and caustic crossing events

Ashish Kumar Meena, Ofir Arad, Adi Zitrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new window to observing individual stars and other small sources at cosmological distances was opened recently, with the detection of several caustic-crossing events in galaxy cluster fields. Many more such events are expected soon from dedicated campaigns with the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. These events can not only teach us about the lensed sources themselves, such as individual high-redshift stars, star clusters, or accretion discs, but through their light curves they also hold information about the point-mass function of the lens, and thus, potentially, the composition of dark matter. We present here a simple method for simulating light curves of such events, i.e. the change in apparent magnitude of the source as it sweeps over the net of caustics generated by microlenses embedded around the critical region of the lens. The method is recursive and so any reasonably sized small source can be accommodated, down to sub-solar scales, in principle. We compare the method, which we dub Adaptive Boundary Method, with other common methods such as simple inverse ray shooting, and demonstrate that it is significantly more efficient and accurate in the small-source and high-magnification regime of interest. A python version of the code is made publicly available in an open-source fashion for simulating future events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2545-2560
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Galaxy clusters: general
  • Gravitational lensing: micro
  • Gravitational lensing: strong

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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