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  1. ABSTRACT

    We report the discovery of six new magnetar counterpart candidates from deep near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging. The new candidates are among a sample of 19 magnetars for which we present HST data obtained between 2018 and 2020. We confirm the variability of previously established near-infrared counterparts, and newly identify candidates for PSR J1622−4950, Swift J1822.3−1606, CXOU J171405.7−381031, Swift J1833−0832, Swift J1834.9−0846, and AX J1818.8−1559 based on their proximity to X-ray localizations. The new candidates are compared with the existing counterpart population in terms of their colours, magnitudes, and near-infrared to X-ray spectral indices. We find two candidates for AX J1818 that are both consistent with previously established counterparts. The other new candidates are likely to be chance alignments, or otherwise have a different origin for their near-infrared emission not previously seen in magnetar counterparts. Further observations and studies of these candidates are needed to firmly establish their nature.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    It is well established that magnetars are neutron stars with extreme magnetic fields and young ages, but the evolutionary pathways to their creation are still uncertain. Since most massive stars are in binaries, if magnetars are a frequent result of core-collapse supernovae, some fractions are expected to have a bound companion at the time of observation. In this paper, we utilize literature constraints, including deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging, to search for bound stellar companions to magnetars. The magnitude and colour measurements are interpreted in the context of binary population synthesis predictions. We find two candidates for stellar companions associated with CXOU J171405.7–381031 and SGR 0755–2933, based on their J–H colours and H-band absolute magnitudes. Overall, the proportion of the Galactic magnetar population with a plausibly stellar near-infrared (NIR) counterpart candidate, based on their magnitudes and colours, is between 5 and 10 per cent. This is consistent with a population synthesis prediction of 5 per cent, for the fraction of core-collapse neutron stars arising from primaries that remain bound to their companion after the supernova. These results are therefore consistent with magnetars being drawn in an unbiased way from the natal core-collapse neutron star population, but some contribution from alternative progenitor channels cannot be ruled out.

     
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  3. Abstract We present James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of the afterglow of GRB 221009A, the brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever observed. This includes the first mid-IR spectra of any GRB, obtained with JWST/Near Infrared Spectrograph (0.6–5.5 micron) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (5–12 micron), 12 days after the burst. Assuming that the intrinsic spectral slope is a single power law, with F ν ∝ ν − β , we obtain β ≈ 0.35, modified by substantial dust extinction with A V = 4.9. This suggests extinction above the notional Galactic value, possibly due to patchy extinction within the Milky Way or dust in the GRB host galaxy. It further implies that the X-ray and optical/IR regimes are not on the same segment of the synchrotron spectrum of the afterglow. If the cooling break lies between the X-ray and optical/IR, then the temporal decay rates would only match a post-jet-break model, with electron index p < 2, and with the jet expanding into a uniform ISM medium. The shape of the JWST spectrum is near-identical in the optical/near-IR to X-SHOOTER spectroscopy obtained at 0.5 days and to later time observations with HST. The lack of spectral evolution suggests that any accompanying supernova (SN) is either substantially fainter or bluer than SN 1998bw, the proto-type GRB-SN. Our HST observations also reveal a disk-like host galaxy, viewed close to edge-on, that further complicates the isolation of any SN component. The host galaxy appears rather typical among long-GRB hosts and suggests that the extreme properties of GRB 221009A are not directly tied to its galaxy-scale environment. 
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  4. Abstract The number of long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) known to have occurred in the distant Universe (z > 5) is small (∼15); however, these events provide a powerful way of probing star formation at the onset of galaxy evolution. In this paper, we present the case for GRB 100205A being a largely overlooked high-redshift event. While initially noted as a high-z candidate, this event and its host galaxy have not been explored in detail. By combining optical and near-infrared Gemini afterglow imaging (at t < 1.3 d since burst) with deep late-time limits on host emission from the Hubble Space Telescope, we show that the most likely scenario is that GRB 100205A arose in the range 4 < z < 8. GRB 100205A is an example of a burst whose afterglow, even at ∼1 h post burst, could only be identified by 8-m class IR observations, and suggests that such observations of all optically dark bursts may be necessary to significantly enhance the number of high-redshift GRBs known. 
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