The status of searches for gravitational microlensing events of the stars in our galaxy and in other galaxies of the Local Group, the interpretation of the results, some theory, and prospects for the future are reviewed. The searches have already unveiled ∼ 100 events, at least two of them caused by binaries, and have already proven to be useful for studies of the Galactic structure. The events detected so far are probably attributable to the effects of ordinary stars, and possibly to substellar brown dwarfs; however, a firm conclusion cannot be reached yet because the analysis published to date is based on a total of only 16 events. The current searches, soon to be upgraded, will probably allow determination of the mass function of stars and brown dwarfs in the next few years; these efforts will also provide good statistical information about binary systems, in particular their mass ratios. They may also reveal the nature of dark matter and allow us to detect planets and planetary mass objects.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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