Discovery of a Low-Mass Planet with a Possible Sub-Stellar-Mass Host in Microlensing Event MOA-2007-BLG-192

We report the detection of an extrasolar planet of mass ratio q≈2×10-4 in microlensing event MOA-2007-BLG-192. The best fit microlensing model shows both the microlensing parallax and finite source effects, and these can be combined to obtain the lens masses of M=0.060(+0.028-0.021) Msolar for the primary and m=3.3(+4.9-1.6) Mearth for the planet. However, the observational coverage of the planetary deviation is sparse and incomplete, and the radius of the source was estimated without the benefit of a source star color measurement.

As a result, the 2-σ limits on the mass ratio and finite source measurements are weak. Nevertheless, the microlensing parallax signal clearly favors a sub-stellar mass planetary host, and the measurement of finite source effects in the light curve supports this conclusion. Adaptive optics images taken with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) NACO instrument are consistent with a lens star that is either a brown dwarf or a star at the bottom of the main sequence. Follow-up VLT and/or Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations will either confirm that the primary is a brown dwarf or detect the low-mass lens star and enable a precise determination of its mass.

In either case, the lens star, MOA-2007-BLG-192L, is the lowest mass primary known to have a companion with a planetary mass ratio, and the planet, MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb, is probably the lowest mass exoplanet found to date, aside from the lowest mass pulsar planet.

Discovery Paper:
Bennett, Bond, Udalski et al., 2008, ApJ, in press;