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A New Population of High-Redshift Short-Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts

Berger, E. and Fox, D. B. and Price, P. A. and Nakar, E. and Gal-Yam, A. and Holz, D. E. and Schmidt, B. P. and Cucchiara, A. and Cenko, S. B. and Kulkarni, S. R. and Soderberg, A. M. and Frail, D. A. and Penprase, B. E. and Rau, A. and Ofek, E. and Bell-Burnell, S. J. and Cameron, P. B. and Cowie, L. L. and Dopita, M. A. and Hook, I. and Peterson, B. A. and Podsiadlowski, P. and Roth, K. C. and Rutledge, R. E. and Sheppard, S. S. and Songaila, A. (2007) A New Population of High-Redshift Short-Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts. Astrophysical Journal, 664 (2). pp. 1000-1010. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/518762.

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The redshift distribution of the short-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is a crucial, but currently fragmentary, clue to the nature of their progenitors. Here we present optical observations of nine short GRBs obtained with Gemini, Magellan, and the Hubble Space Telescope. We detect the afterglows and host galaxies of two short bursts, and host galaxies for two additional bursts with known optical afterglow positions, and five with X-ray positions (≲6" radius). In eight of the nine cases we find that the most probable host galaxies are faint, R ≈ 23-26.5 mag, and are therefore starkly different from the first few short GRB hosts with R ≈ 17-22 mag and z ≲ 0.5. Indeed, we measure spectroscopic redshifts of z ≈ 0.4-1.1 for the four brightest hosts. A comparison to large field galaxy samples, as well as the hosts of long GRBs and previous short GRBs, indicates that the fainter hosts likely reside at z ≳ 1. Our most conservative limit is that at least half of the five hosts without a known redshift reside at z > 0.7 (97% confidence level), suggesting that about 1/3 to 2/3 of all short GRBs originate at higher redshifts than previously determined. This has two important implications: (1) we constrain the acceptable age distributions to a wide lognormal (σ ≳ 1) with τ* ~ 4-8 Gyr, or to a power law, P(τ)α τ^n, with -1 ≲ n ≲ 0; and (2) the inferred isotropic energies, E_γ,iso ~ 10^50-10^52 ergs, are significantly larger than ~10^48-10^49 ergs for the low-redshift, short GRBs, indicating a large spread in energy release or jet opening angles. Finally, we reiterate the importance of short GRBs as potential gravitational-wave sources and find a conservative detection rate with the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) of ~2-6 yr^-1.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Berger, E.0000-0002-9392-9681
Fox, D. B.0000-0002-3714-672X
Nakar, E.0000-0002-4534-7089
Gal-Yam, A.0000-0002-3653-5598
Schmidt, B. P.0000-0001-6589-1287
Cenko, S. B.0000-0003-1673-970X
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Rau, A.0000-0001-5990-6243
Ofek, E.0000-0002-6786-8774
Cowie, L. L.0000-0002-6319-1575
Hook, I.0000-0002-2960-978X
Sheppard, S. S.0000-0003-3145-8682
Additional Information:© 2007 American Astronomical Society. Received 2006 November 3; accepted 2007 March 22. We thank Scott Barthelmy and Louis Barbier for information on GRB 051227, and Chris Belczynski, Vicky Kalogera, and Brad Schaefer for their various comments. E. B. is supported by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant HST-01171.01 awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555. A. G.-Y. is supported by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF-01158.01-A. Based in part on observations obtained at the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the NSF on behalf of the Gemini partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (United Kingdom), the National Research Council (Canada), CONICYT (Chile), the Australian Research Council (Australia), CNPq ( Brazil ), and CONICET (Argentina).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-01171.01
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF-01158.01-A
NASANAS 5-26555
Subject Keywords:gamma rays: bursts
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20091026-162635451
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A New Population of High-Redshift Short-Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts E. Berger, D. B. Fox, P. A. Price, E. Nakar, A. Gal-Yam, D. E. Holz, B. P. Schmidt, A. Cucchiara, S. B. Cenko, S. R. Kulkarni, A. M. Soderberg, D. A. Frail, B. E. Penprase, A. Rau, E. Ofek, S. J. Bell Burnell, P. B. Cameron, L. L. Cowie, M. A. Dopita, I. Hook, B. A. Peterson, P. Podsiadlowski, K. C. Roth, R. E. Rutledge, S. S. Sheppard, and A. Songaila 2007 ApJ 664 1000-1010 doi: 10.1086/518762
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:16483
Deposited By: Marie Noren
Deposited On:29 Oct 2009 21:08
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:27

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