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The Faint Optical Afterglow and Host Galaxy of GRB 020124: Implications for the Nature of Dark Gamma‐Ray Bursts

Berger, E. and Kulkarni, S. R. and Bloom, J. S. and Price, P. A. and Fox, D. W. and Frail, D. A. and Axelrod, T. S. and Chevalier, R. A. and Colbert, E. and Costa, E. and Djorgovski, S. G. and Frontera, F. and Galama, T. J. and Halpern, J. P. and Harrison, F. A. and Holtzman, J. and Hurley, K. and Kimble, R. A. and McCarthy, P. J. and Piro, L. and Reichart, D. and Ricker, G. R. and Sari, R. and Schmidt, B. P. and Wheeler, J. C. and Vanderppek, R. and Yost, S. A. (2002) The Faint Optical Afterglow and Host Galaxy of GRB 020124: Implications for the Nature of Dark Gamma‐Ray Bursts. Astrophysical Journal, 581 (2). pp. 981-987. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/344262.

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We present ground-based optical observations of GRB 020124 starting 1.6 hr after the burst, as well as subsequent Very Large Array and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations. The optical afterglow of GRB 020124 is one of the faintest afterglows detected to date, and it exhibits a relatively rapid decay, F_ν ∝ t^(-1.60±0.04), followed by further steepening. In addition, a weak radio source was found coincident with the optical afterglow. The HST observations reveal that a positionally coincident host galaxy must be the faintest host to date, R ≳ 29.5 mag. The afterglow observations can be explained by several models requiring little or no extinction within the host galaxy, A_V^(host) ≈ 0-0.9 mag. These observations have significant implications for the interpretation of the so-called dark bursts (bursts for which no optical afterglow is detected), which are usually attributed to dust extinction within the host galaxy. The faintness and relatively rapid decay of the afterglow of GRB 020124, combined with the low inferred extinction, indicate that some dark bursts are intrinsically dim and not dust obscured. Thus, the diversity in the underlying properties of optical afterglows must be observationally determined before substantive inferences can be drawn from the statistics of dark bursts.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Berger, E.0000-0002-9392-9681
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Bloom, J. S.0000-0002-7777-216X
Fox, D. W.0000-0002-3714-672X
Djorgovski, S. G.0000-0002-0603-3087
Harrison, F. A.0000-0003-2992-8024
Reichart, D.0000-0002-5060-3673
Sari, R.0000-0002-1084-3656
Schmidt, B. P.0000-0001-6589-1287
Additional Information:© 2002 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2002 July 15; accepted 2002 August 20. J. S. B. is a Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellow. F. A. H. acknowledges support from a Presidential Early Career award. S. R. K. and S. G. D. thank the NSF for support. R. S. is grateful for support from a NASA ATP grant. R. S. and T. J. G. acknowledge support from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. J. C. W. acknowledges support from NASA grant NAG 59302. K. H. is grateful for Ulysses support under JPL contract 958056 and for IPN support under NASA grants FDNAG 5-11451 and NAG 5-17100. Support for Proposal HST-GO-09180.01-A was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. We thank the anonymous referee for helpful comments.
Group:TAPIR, Space Radiation Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Fannie and John Hertz FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech President’s FundUNSPECIFIED
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NASANAG 5-17100
Subject Keywords:cosmology: observations — dust, extinction — gamma rays: bursts
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190923-103407493
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:E. Berger et al 2002 ApJ 581 981
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:98795
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Sep 2019 21:13
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:41

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