We study microlensing of the faint images that form close to the centres of strong gravitational lens galaxies. These central images, which have finally begun to yield to observations, naturally appear in dense stellar fields and may be particularly sensitive to fine granularity in the mass distribution. The microlensing magnification maps for overfocused (i.e. demagnified) images differ strikingly from those for magnified images. In particular, the familiar 'fold' and 'cusp' features of maps for magnified images are only present for certain values of the fraction f of the surface mass density contained in stars. For central images, the dispersion in microlensing magnifications is generally larger than for normal (minimum and saddle) images, especially when the source is comparable to or larger than the stellar Einstein radius. The dispersion depends in a complicated way on f; this behaviour may hold the key to using microlensing as a probe of the relative densities of stars and dark matter in the cores of distant galaxies. Quantitatively, we predict that the central image C in PMN J1632-0033 has a magnification dispersion of 0.6 mag for, or 0.3 mag for. For comparison, the dispersions are 0.5-0.6 mag for image B and 0.05-0.1 mag for image A, if ; and just 0.1 mag for B and 0.008 mag for A if. (The dispersions can be extrapolated to larger sources sizes as.) Thus, central images are more susceptible than other lensed images to microlensing and hence good probes for measuring source sizes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Galaxies: stellar content
- Gravitational lensing