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  1. Abstract

    We present the stellar population properties of 69 short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies, representing the largest uniformly modeled sample to date. Using theProspectorstellar population inference code, we jointly fit photometry and/or spectroscopy of each host galaxy. We find a population median redshift ofz=0.640.32+0.83(68% confidence), including nine photometric redshifts atz≳ 1. We further find a median mass-weighted age oftm=0.80.53+2.71Gyr, stellar mass of log(M*/M) =9.690.65+0.75, star formation rate of SFR =1.441.35+9.37Myr−1, stellar metallicity of log(Z*/Z) =0.380.42+0.44, and dust attenuation ofAV=0.430.36+0.85mag (68% confidence). Overall, the majority of short GRB hosts are star-forming (≈84%), with small fractions that are either transitioning (≈6%) or quiescent (≈10%); however, we observe a much larger fraction (≈40%) of quiescent and transitioning hosts atz≲ 0.25, commensurate with galaxy evolution. We find that short GRB hosts populate the star-forming main sequence of normal field galaxies, but do not include as many high-mass galaxies as the general galaxy population, implying that their binary neutron star (BNS) merger progenitors are dependent on a combination of host star formation and stellar mass. The distribution of ages and redshifts implies a broad delay-time distribution,more »with a fast-merging channel atz> 1 and a decreased neutron star binary formation efficiency from high to low redshifts. If short GRB hosts are representative of BNS merger hosts within the horizon of current gravitational wave detectors, these results can inform future searches for electromagnetic counterparts. All of the data and modeling products are available on the Broadband Repository for Investigating Gamma-ray burst Host Traits website.

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  2. We describe the first observations of the same celestial object with gravitational waves and light. ▪  GW170817 was the first detection of a neutron star merger with gravitational waves. ▪  The detection of a spatially coincident weak burst of gamma-rays (GRB 170817A) 1.7 s after the merger constituted the first electromagnetic detection of a gravitational wave source and established a connection between at least some cosmic short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) and binary neutron star mergers. ▪  A fast-evolving optical and near-infrared transient (AT 2017gfo) associated with the event can be interpreted as resulting from the ejection of ∼0.05 M ⊙ of material enriched in r-process elements, finally establishing binary neutron star mergers as at least one source of r-process nucleosynthesis. ▪  Radio and X-ray observations revealed a long-rising source that peaked ∼160,d after the merger. Combined with the apparent superluminal motion of the associated very long baseline interferometry source, these observations show that the merger produced a relativistic structured jet whose core was oriented ≈20 deg from the line of sight and with properties similar to SGRBs. The jet structure likely results from interaction between the jet and the merger ejecta. ▪  The electromagnetic and gravitational wave information can bemore »combined to produce constraints on the expansion rate of the Universe and the equation of state of dense nuclear matter. These multimessenger endeavors will be a major emphasis of future work.« less
  3. 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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  4. 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
  5. ABSTRACT Fast-rotating pulsars and magnetars have been suggested as the central engines of superluminous supernovae (SLSNe) and fast radio bursts, and this scenario naturally predicts non-thermal synchrotron emission from their nascent pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe). We report results of high-frequency radio observations with ALMA and NOEMA for three SLSNe (SN 2015bn, SN 2016ard, and SN 2017egm), and present a detailed theoretical model to calculate non-thermal emission from PWNe with an age of ∼1−3 yr. We find that the ALMA data disfavours a PWN model motivated by the Crab nebula for SN 2015bn and SN 2017egm, and argue that this tension can be resolved if the nebular magnetization is very high or very low. Such models can be tested by future MeV–GeV gamma-ray telescopes such as AMEGO.
  6. 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
  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.