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Creators/Authors contains: "Alexander, Kate D."

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  1. Abstract

    We present the discovery of the first millimeter afterglow of a short-durationγ-ray burst (SGRB) and the first confirmed afterglow of an SGRB localized by the GUANO system on Swift. Our Atacama Large Millimeter/Sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) detection of SGRB 211106A establishes an origin in a faint host galaxy detected in Hubble Space Telescope imaging at 0.7 ≲z≲ 1.4. From the lack of a detectable optical afterglow, coupled with the bright millimeter counterpart, we infer a high extinction,AV≳ 2.6 mag along the line of sight, making this one of the most highly dust-extincted SGRBs known to date. The millimeter-band light curve captures the passage of the synchrotron peak from the afterglow forward shock and reveals a jet break attjet=29.24.0+4.5days. For a presumed redshift ofz= 1, we infer an opening angle,θjet= (15.°5 ± 1.°4), and beaming-corrected kinetic energy oflog(EK/erg)=51.8±0.3, making this one of the widest and most energetic SGRB jets known to date. Combining all published millimeter-band upper limits in conjunction with the energetics for a large sample of SGRBs, we find that energetic outflows in high-density environments are more likely to have detectable millimeter counterparts. Concerted afterglow searches with ALMA shouldmore »yield detection fractions of 24%–40% on timescales of ≳2 days at rates of ≈0.8–1.6 per year, outpacing the historical discovery rate of SGRB centimeter-band afterglows.

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  2. Abstract

    We present a comprehensive optical and near-infrared census of the fields of 90 short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) discovered in 2005–2021, constituting all short GRBs for which host galaxy associations are feasible (≈60% of the total Swift short GRB population). We contribute 274 new multi-band imaging observations across 58 distinct GRBs and 26 spectra of their host galaxies. Supplemented by literature and archival survey data, the catalog contains 542 photometric and 42 spectroscopic data sets. The photometric catalog reaches 3σdepths of ≳24–27 mag and ≳23–26 mag for the optical and near-infrared bands, respectively. We identify host galaxies for 84 bursts, in which the most robust associations make up 56% (50/90) of events, while only a small fraction, 6.7%, have inconclusive host associations. Based on new spectroscopy, we determine 18 host spectroscopic redshifts with a range ofz≈ 0.15–1.5 and find that ≈23%–41% of Swift short GRBs originate fromz> 1. We also present the galactocentric offset catalog for 84 short GRBs. Taking into account the large range of individual measurement uncertainties, we find a median of projected offset of ≈7.7 kpc, for which the bursts with the most robust associations have a smaller median of ≈4.8 kpc. Our catalog captures more high-redshiftmore »and low-luminosity hosts, and more highly offset bursts than previously found, thereby diversifying the population of known short GRB hosts and properties. In terms of locations and host luminosities, the populations of short GRBs with and without detectable extended emission are statistically indistinguishable. This suggests that they arise from the same progenitors, or from multiple progenitors, which form and evolve in similar environments. All of the data products are available on the Broadband Repository for Investigating Gamma-Ray Burst Host Traits website.

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  3. Abstract We present the complete set of Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 and its optical counterpart AT 2017gfo. Including deep template imaging in F814W, F110W, F140W, and F160W at 3.4 yr post-merger, we reanalyze the full light curve of AT 2017gfo across 12 bands from 5 to 1273 rest-frame days after merger. We obtain four new detections of the short γ -ray burst 170817A afterglow from 109 to 170 rest-frame days post-merger. These detections are consistent with the previously observed β = −0.6 spectral index in the afterglow light curve with no evidence for spectral evolution. We also analyze our limits in the context of kilonova afterglow or IR dust echo emission but find that our limits are not constraining for these models. We use the new data to construct deep optical and IR stacks, reaching limits of M = −6.3 to −4.6 mag, to analyze the local environment around AT 2017gfo and low surface brightness features in its host galaxy NGC 4993. We rule out the presence of any globular cluster at the position of AT 2017gfo to 2.3 × 10 4 L ⊙ , including those with the reddest V − Hmore »colors. Finally, we analyze the substructure of NGC 4993 in deep residual imaging and find shell features that extend up to 71.″8 (14.2 kpc) from NGC 4993. The shells have a cumulative stellar mass of 6.3 × 10 8 M ⊙ , roughly 2% of NGC 4993, and mass-weighted ages of >3 Gyr. We conclude that it was unlikely that the GW170817 progenitor system formed in the galaxy merger.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Abstract We present deep X-ray and radio observations of the fast blue optical transient (FBOT) AT 2020xnd/ZTF 20acigmel at z = 0.2433 from 13 days to 269 days after explosion. AT 2020xnd belongs to the category of optically luminous FBOTs with similarities to the archetypal event AT 2018cow. AT 2020xnd shows luminous radio emission reaching L ν ≈ 8 × 10 29 erg s −1 Hz −1 at 20 GHz and 75 days post-explosion, accompanied by luminous and rapidly fading soft X-ray emission peaking at L X ≈ 6 × 10 42 erg s −1 . Interpreting the radio emission in the context of synchrotron radiation from the explosion’s shock interaction with the environment, we find that AT 2020xnd launched a high-velocity outflow ( v ∼ 0.1 c –0.2 c ) propagating into a dense circumstellar medium (effective M ̇ ≈ 10 − 3 M ⊙ yr −1 for an assumed wind velocity of v w = 1000 km s −1 ). Similar to AT 2018cow, the detected X-ray emission is in excess compared to the extrapolated synchrotron spectrum and constitutes a different emission component, possibly powered by accretion onto a newly formed black hole or neutron star. These propertiesmore »make AT 2020xnd a high-redshift analog to AT 2018cow, and establish AT 2020xnd as the fourth member of the class of optically luminous FBOTs with luminous multiwavelength counterparts.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
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  6. ABSTRACT We report on Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations of the fast and blue optical transient (FBOT), AT 2018cow. At ∼62 Mpc, AT 2018cow is the first relatively nearby FBOT. The nature of AT 2018cow is not clear, although various hypotheses from a tidal disruption event to different kinds of supernovae have been suggested. It had a very fast rise time (3.5 d) and an almost featureless blue spectrum, although high photospheric velocities (40 000 km s−1) were suggested early on. The X-ray luminosity was very high, ∼1.4 × 1043 erg s−1, larger than those of ordinary supernovae (SNe), and more consistent with those of SNe associated with gamma-ray bursts. Variable hard X-ray emission hints at a long-lived ‘central engine.’ It was also fairly radio luminous, with a peak 8.4-GHz spectral luminosity of ∼4 × 1028 erg s−1 Hz−1, allowing us to make VLBI observations at ages between 22 and 287 d. We do not resolve AT 2018cow. Assuming a circularly symmetric source, our observations constrain the average apparent expansion velocity to be ${\lt}0.49\, c$ by t = 98 d (3σ limit). We also constrain the proper motion of AT 2018cow to be ${\lt}0.51\, c$. Since the radio emission generally traces the fastest ejecta, our observations make the presence of a long-lived relativistic jet with a lifetime of more than 1 monthmore »very unlikely.« less
  7. Abstract

    The discovery of the electromagnetic counterpart to the binary neutron star (NS) merger GW170817 has opened the era of gravitational-wave multimessenger astronomy. Rapid identification of the optical/infrared kilonova enabled a precise localization of the source, which paved the way to deep multiwavelength follow-up and its myriad of related science results. Fully exploiting this new territory of exploration requires the acquisition of electromagnetic data from samples of NS mergers and other gravitational-wave sources. After GW170817, the frontier is now to map the diversity of kilonova properties and provide more stringent constraints on the Hubble constant, and enable new tests of fundamental physics. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time can play a key role in this field in the 2020s, when an improved network of gravitational-wave detectors is expected to reach a sensitivity that will enable the discovery of a high rate of merger events involving NSs (∼tens per year) out to distances of several hundred megaparsecs. We design comprehensive target-of-opportunity observing strategies for follow-up of gravitational-wave triggers that will make the Rubin Observatory the premier instrument for discovery and early characterization of NS and other compact-object mergers, and yet unknown classes of gravitational-wave events.

  8. ABSTRACT AT 2018hyz (= ASASSN-18zj) is a tidal disruption event (TDE) located in the nucleus of a quiescent E+A galaxy at a redshift of z = 0.04573, first detected by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN). We present optical+UV photometry of the transient, as well as an X-ray spectrum and radio upper limits. The bolometric light curve of AT 2018hyz is comparable to other known TDEs and declines at a rate consistent with a t−5/3 at early times, emitting a total radiated energy of E = 9 × 1050 erg. An excess bump appears in the UV light curve about 50 d after bolometric peak, followed by a flattening beyond 250 d. We detect a constant X-ray source present for at least 86 d. The X-ray spectrum shows a total unabsorbed flux of ∼4 × 10−14 erg cm−2 s−1 and is best fit by a blackbody plus power-law model with a photon index of Γ = 0.8. A thermal X-ray model is unable to account for photons >1 keV, while a radio non-detection favours inverse-Compton scattering rather than a jet for the non-thermal component. We model the optical and UV light curves using the Modular Open-Source Fitter for Transients (MOSFiT) and find a best fit for a black hole of 5.2 × 106 M⊙ disrupting a 0.1 M⊙ star; themore »model suggests the star was likely only partially disrupted, based on the derived impact parameter of β = 0.6. The low optical depth implied by the small debris mass may explain how we are able to see hydrogen emission with disc-like line profiles in the spectra of AT 2018hyz (see our companion paper).« less