White Paper: Exoplanetary Microlensing from the Ground in the 2020s

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Microlensing can access planet populations that no other method can probe: cold wide-orbit planets beyond the snow line, planets in both the Galactic bulge and disk, and free floating planets (FFPs). The demographics of each population will provide unique constraints on planet formation. Over the past 5 years, U.S. microlensing campaigns with Spitzer and UKIRT have provided a powerful complement to international ground-based microlensing surveys, with major breakthroughs in parallax measurements and probing new regions of the Galaxy. The scientific vitality of these projects has also promoted the development of the U.S. microlensing community. In the 2020s, the U.S. can continue to play a major role in ground-based microlensing by leveraging U.S. assets to complement ongoing ground-based international surveys. LSST and UKIRT microlensing surveys would probe vast regions of the Galaxy, where planets form under drastically different conditions. Moreover, while ground-based surveys will measure the planet mass-ratio function beyond the snow line, adaptive optics (AO) observations with ELTs would turn all of these mass ratios into masses and also distinguish between very wide-orbit planets and genuine FFPs. To the extent possible, cooperation of U.S. scientists with international surveys should also be encouraged and supported.

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ArXiv e-prints

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