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  1. Abstract

    Mounting evidence suggests that luminous fast blue optical transients (LFBOTs) are powered by a compact object, launching an asymmetric and fast outflow responsible for the radiation observed in the ultraviolet, optical, infrared, radio, and X-ray bands. Proposed scenarios aiming to explain the electromagnetic emission include an inflated cocoon, surrounding a jet choked in the extended stellar envelope. Alternatively, the observed radiation may arise from the disk formed by the delayed merger of a black hole with a Wolf–Rayet star. We explore the neutrino production in these scenarios, i.e., internal shocks in a choked jet and interaction between the outflow and the circumstellar medium (CSM). If observed on axis, the choked jet provides the dominant contribution to the neutrino fluence. Intriguingly, the IceCube upper limit on the neutrino emission inferred from the closest LFBOT, AT2018cow, excludes a region of the parameter space otherwise allowed by electromagnetic observations. After correcting for the Eddington bias on the observation of cosmic neutrinos, we conclude that the emission from an on-axis choked jet and CSM interaction is compatible with the detection of two track-like neutrino events observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in coincidence with AT2018cow, and otherwise considered to be of atmospheric origin. While the neutrino emission from LFBOTs does not constitute the bulk of the diffuse background of neutrinos observed by IceCube, the detection prospects of nearby LFBOTs with IceCube and the upcoming IceCube-Gen2 are encouraging. Follow-up neutrino searches will be crucial for unraveling the mechanism powering this emergent transient class.

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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-redshift 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 extensive multifrequency Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations of the radio-bright supernova (SN) IIb SN 2004C that span ∼40–2793 days post-explosion. We interpret the temporal evolution of the radio spectral energy distribution in the context of synchrotron self-absorbed emission from the explosion’s forward shock as it expands in the circumstellar medium (CSM) previously sculpted by the mass-loss history of the stellar progenitor. VLBA observations and modeling of the VLA data point to a blastwave with average velocity ∼0.06cthat carries an energy of ≈1049erg. Our modeling further reveals a flat CSM density profileρCSMR−0.03±0.22up to a break radiusRbr≈ (1.96 ± 0.10) × 1016cm, with a steep density gradient followingρCSMR−2.3±0.5at larger radii. We infer that the flat part of the density profile corresponds to a CSM shell with mass ∼0.021M, and that the progenitor’s effective mass-loss rate varied with time over the range (50–500) × 10−5Myr−1for an adopted wind velocityvw= 1000 km s−1and shock microphysical parametersϵe= 0.1,ϵB= 0.01. These results add to the mounting observational evidence for departures from the traditional single-wind mass-loss scenarios in evolved, massive stars in the centuries leading up to core collapse. Potentially viable scenarios include mass loss powered by gravity waves and/or interaction with a binary companion.

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    Evidence is mounting that recent multiwavelength detections of fast blue optical transients (FBOTs) in star-forming galaxies comprise a new class of transients, whose origin is yet to be understood. We show that hydrogen-rich collapsing stars that launch relativistic jets near the central engine can naturally explain the entire set of FBOT observables. The jet–star interaction forms a mildly relativistic shocked jet (inner cocoon) component, which powers cooling emission that dominates the high velocity optical signal during the first few weeks, with a typical energy of ∼1050–1051 erg. During this time, the cocoon radial energy distribution implies that the optical light curve exhibits a fast decay of $L \,\, \buildrel\propto \over \sim \,\,t^{-2.4}$. After a few weeks, when the velocity of the emitting shell is ∼0.01 c, the cocoon becomes transparent, and the cooling envelope governs the emission. The interaction between the cocoon and the dense circumstellar winds generates synchrotron self-absorbed emission in the radio bands, featuring a steady rise on a month time-scale. After a few months the relativistic outflow decelerates, enters the observer’s line of sight, and powers the peak of the radio light curve, which rapidly decays thereafter. The jet (and the inner cocoon) becomes optically thin to X-rays ∼day after the collapse, allowing X-ray photons to diffuse from the central engine that launched the jet to the observer. Cocoon cooling emission is expected at higher volumetric rates than gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) by a factor of a few, similar to FBOTs. We rule out uncollimated outflows, however, both GRB jets and failed collimated jets are compatible with all observables.

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  5. 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 should 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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  6. Abstract

    Calcium-rich (Ca-rich) transients are a new class of supernovae (SNe) that are known for their comparatively rapid evolution, modest peak luminosities, and strong nebular calcium emission lines. Currently, the progenitor systems of Ca-rich transients remain unknown. Although they exhibit spectroscopic properties not unlike core-collapse Type Ib/c SNe, nearly half are found in the outskirts of their host galaxies, which are predominantly elliptical, suggesting a closer connection to the older stellar populations of SNe Ia. In this paper, we present a compilation of publicly available multiwavelength observations of all known and/or suspected host galaxies of Ca-rich transients ranging from far-UV to IR, and use these data to characterize their stellar populations withprospector. We estimate several galaxy parameters including integrated star formation rate, stellar mass, metallicity, and age. For nine host galaxies, the observations are sensitive enough to obtain nonparametric star formation histories, from which we recover SN rates and estimate probabilities that the Ca-rich transients in each of these host galaxies originated from a core-collapse versus Type Ia-like explosion. Our work supports the notion that the population of Ca-rich transients do not come exclusively from core-collapse explosions, and must either be only from white dwarf stars or a mixed population of white dwarf stars with other channels, potentially including massive star explosions. Additional photometry and explosion site spectroscopy of larger samples of Ca-rich host galaxies will improve these estimates and better constrain the ratio of white dwarf versus massive star progenitors of Ca-rich transients.

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  7. 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, 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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  8. 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.

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  9. Abstract

    For the first ∼3 yrs after the binary neutron star merger event GW 170817, the radio and X-ray radiation has been dominated by emission from a structured relativistic off-axis jet propagating into a low-density medium withn< 0.01 cm−3. We report on observational evidence for an excess of X-ray emission atδt> 900 days after the merger. WithLx≈ 5 × 1038erg s−1at 1234 days, the recently detected X-ray emission represents a ≥3.2σ(Gaussian equivalent) deviation from the universal post-jet-break model that best fits the multiwavelength afterglow at earlier times. In the context ofJetFitafterglow models, current data represent a departure with statistical significance ≥3.1σ, depending on the fireball collimation, with the most realistic models showing excesses at the level of ≥3.7σ. A lack of detectable 3 GHz radio emission suggests a harder broadband spectrum than the jet afterglow. These properties are consistent with the emergence of a new emission component such as synchrotron radiation from a mildly relativistic shock generated by the expanding merger ejecta, i.e., a kilonova afterglow. In this context, we present a set of ab initio numerical relativity binary neutron star (BNS) merger simulations that show that an X-ray excess supports the presence of a high-velocity tail in the merger ejecta, and argues against the prompt collapse of the merger remnant into a black hole. Radiation from accretion processes on the compact-object remnant represents a viable alternative. Neither a kilonova afterglow nor accretion-powered emission have been observed before, as detections of BNS mergers at this phase of evolution are unprecedented.

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  10. Abstract We present NuSTAR observations of the nearby SN 2023ixf in M101 ( d = 6.9 Mpc) that provide the earliest hard X-ray detection of a nonrelativistic stellar explosion to date at δ t ≈ 4 days and δ t ≈ 11 days. The spectra are well described by a hot thermal bremsstrahlung continuum with T > 25 keV shining through a thick neutral medium with a neutral hydrogen column that decreases with time (initial N Hint = 2.6 × 10 23 cm −2 ). A prominent neutral Fe K α emission line is clearly detected, similar to other strongly interacting supernovae (SNe) such as SN 2010jl. The rapidly decreasing intrinsic absorption with time suggests the presence of a dense but confined circumstellar medium (CSM). The absorbed broadband X-ray luminosity (0.3–79 keV) is L X ≈ 2.5 × 10 40 erg s −1 during both epochs, with the increase in overall X-ray flux related to the decrease in the absorbing column. Interpreting these observations in the context of thermal bremsstrahlung radiation originating from the interaction of the SN shock with a dense medium we infer large particle densities in excess of n CSM ≈ 4 × 10 8 cm −3 at r < 10 15 cm, corresponding to an enhanced progenitor mass-loss rate of M ̇ ≈ 3 × 10 − 4 M ⊙ yr −1 for an assumed wind velocity of v w = 50 km s −1 . 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024