The POINT-AGAPE collaboration is carrying out a search for gravitational microlensing toward M31 to reveal galactic dark matter in the form of MACHOs (Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects) in the halos of the Milky Way and M31. A high-threshold analysis of 3 years of data yields 6 bright, short- duration microlensing events, which are confronted to a simulation of the observations and the analysis. The observed signal is much larger than expected from self lensing alone and we conclude, at the 95% confidence level, that at least 20% of the halo mass in the direction of M31 must be in the form of MACHOs if their average mass lies in the range 0.5-1 M-circle dot. This lower bound drops to 8% for MACHOs with masses similar to 0.01 M-circle dot. In addition, we discuss a likely binary microlensing candidate with caustic crossing. Its location, some 32' away from the centre of M31, supports our conclusion that we are detecting a MACHO signal in the direction of M31.
- Space and Planetary Science