Completing the exoplanet census - the pathway for understanding planet formation
Over the last three decades, our knowledge about planetary systems has increased dramatically, from one example with eight planets (our own Solar system) to over 2800 planetary systems hosting more than 3700 planets. While occurrence rate studies show that exoplanets are the rule rather than an exception, our understanding of the physical processes forming these planets is still very limited. Fortunately, we are now on the verge of the next revolution in exoplanet science. TESS, PLATO, JWST, WFIRST, and LSST will complete the demographic census of planets across a wide range of environments, and will allow detailed characterization of their atmospheres and structure.
In this talk I will discuss the important role of microlensing in the forefront of exoplanetary studies. Gravitational microlensing is unique in its ability to probe several important but relatively untapped reservoirs of exoplanet parameter space, including the abundance and mass-function of cold planets, planet-formation efficiency in different Galactic environments, and the population of free-floating planets. A wealth of new and upcoming microlensing campaigns, both from ground and space, will allow the full exploration of the exoplanet demographics unique to microlensing, potentially revolutionizing our understanding of planet formation. In addition to studying planets, these surveys allow to study important regimes of the stellar mass function (e.g., massive remnants, isolated brown-dwarfs) and to to study the Galactic structure and evolution.