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Title: Late-time Evolution and Modeling of the Off-axis Gamma-Ray Burst Candidate FIRST J141918.9+394036
Abstract We present new radio and optical data, including very-long-baseline interferometry, as well as archival data analysis, for the luminous, decades-long radio transient FIRST J141918.9+394036. The radio data reveal a synchrotron self-absorption peak around 0.3 GHz and a radius of around 1.3 mas (0.5 pc) 26 yr post-discovery, indicating a blastwave energy ∼5 × 10 50 erg. The optical spectrum shows a broad [O iii ] λ 4959,5007 emission line that may indicate collisional excitation in the host galaxy, but its association with the transient cannot be ruled out. The properties of the host galaxy are suggestive of a massive stellar progenitor that formed at low metallicity. Based on the radio light curve, blastwave velocity, energetics, nature of the host galaxy and transient rates, we find that the properties of J1419+3940 are most consistent with long gamma-ray burst (LGRB) afterglows. Other classes of (optically discovered) stellar explosions as well as neutron star mergers are disfavored, and invoking any exotic scenario may not be necessary. It is therefore likely that J1419+3940 is an off-axis LGRB afterglow (as suggested by Law et al. and Marcote et al.), and under this premise the inverse beaming fraction is found to be f b − 1 ≃ 280 − 200 + 700 , corresponding to an average jet half-opening angle < θ j > ≃ 5 − 2 + 4 degrees (68% confidence), consistent with previous estimates. From the volumetric rate we predict that surveys with the Very Large Array, Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, and MeerKAT will find a handful of J1419+3940-like events over the coming years.  more » « less
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The Astrophysical Journal
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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