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A New Population of Ultra-Long Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts

Levan, AJ and Tanvir, NR and Starling, RLC and Wiersema, K and Page, KL and Perley, DA and Schulze, S and Wynn, GA and Chornock, R and Hjorth, J and Cenko, SB and Fruchter, AS and O'Brien, PT and Brown, GC and Tunnicliffe, RL and Malesani, D and Jakobsson, P and Watson, D and Berger, E and Bersier, D and Cobb, BE and Covino, S and Cucchiara, A and de Ugarte Postigo, A and Fox, DB and Gal-Yam, A and Goldoni, P and Gorosabel, J and Kaper, L and Kruehler, T and Karjalainen, R and Osborne, JP and Pian, E and Sanchez-Ramirez, R and Schmidt, B and Skillen, I and Tagliaferri, G and Thoene, C and Vaduvescu, O and Wijers, RAMJ and Zauderer, BA (2014) A New Population of Ultra-Long Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts. Astrophysical Journal, 781 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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Abstract

We present comprehensive multiwavelength observations of three gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with durations of several thousand seconds. We demonstrate that these events are extragalactic transients; in particular, we resolve the long-standing conundrum of the distance of GRB 101225A (the "Christmas-day burst"), finding it to have a redshift z = 0.847 and showing that two apparently similar events (GRB 111209A and GRB 121027A) lie at z = 0.677 and z = 1.773, respectively. The systems show extremely unusual X-ray and optical light curves, very different from classical GRBs, with long-lasting, highly variable X-ray emission and optical light curves that exhibit little correlation with the behavior seen in the X-ray. Their host galaxies are faint, compact, and highly star-forming dwarf galaxies, typical of "blue compact galaxies." We propose that these bursts are the prototypes of a hitherto largely unrecognized population of ultra-long GRBs, which while observationally difficult to detect may be astrophysically relatively common. The long durations may naturally be explained by the engine-driven explosions of stars of much larger radii than normally considered for GRB progenitors, which are thought to have compact Wolf-Rayet progenitor stars. However, we cannot unambiguously identify supernova signatures within their light curves or spectra. We also consider the alternative possibility that they arise from the tidal disruption of stars by massive black holes and conclude that the associated timescales are only consistent with the disruption of compact stars (e.g., white dwarfs) by black holes of relatively low mass (<105 M ☉).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical And Space Sciences, 0305 Organic Chemistry, 0306 Physical Chemistry (Incl. Structural)
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society; IOP Publishing
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2017 10:06
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2017 13:02
DOI or Identification number: 10.1088/0004-637X/781/1/13
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5479

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