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Discovery of the Optical Afterglow and Host Galaxy of Short GRB 181123B at z = 1.754: Implications for Delay Time Distributions

Paterson, K, Fong, W, Nugent, A, Escorial, AR, Leja, J, Laskar, T, Chornock, R, Miller, AA, Scharwächter, J, Cenko, SB, Perley, DA, Tanvir, NR, Levan, A, Cucchiara, A, Cobb, BE, De, K, Berger, E, Terreran, G, Alexander, KD, Nicholl, M , Blanchard, PK and Cornish, D (2020) Discovery of the Optical Afterglow and Host Galaxy of Short GRB 181123B at z = 1.754: Implications for Delay Time Distributions. Astrophysical Journal, 898 (2). ISSN 0004-637X

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We present the discovery of the optical afterglow and host galaxy of the Swift short-duration gamma-ray burst (SGRB) GRB 181123B. Observations with Gemini-North starting ≈9.1 hr after the burst reveal a faint optical afterglow with i ≈ 25.1 mag at an angular offset of 0farcs59 ± 0farcs16 from its host galaxy. Using grizYJHK observations, we measure a photometric redshift of the host galaxy of $z={1.77}_{-0.17}^{+0.30}$. From a combination of Gemini and Keck spectroscopy of the host galaxy spanning 4500–18000 Å, we detect a single emission line at 13390 Å, inferred as Hβ at z = 1.754 ± 0.001 and corroborating the photometric redshift. The host galaxy properties of GRB 181123B are typical of those of other SGRB hosts, with an inferred stellar mass of ≈9.1 × 109 M ⊙, a mass-weighted age of ≈0.9 Gyr, and an optical luminosity of ≈0.9L*. At z = 1.754, GRB 181123B is the most distant secure SGRB with an optical afterglow detection and one of only three at z > 1.5. Motivated by a growing number of high-z SGRBs, we explore the effects of a missing z > 1.5 SGRB population among the current Swift sample on delay time distribution (DTD) models. We find that lognormal models with mean delay times of ≈4–6 Gyr are consistent with the observed distribution but can be ruled out to 95% confidence, with an additional ≈one to five Swift SGRBs recovered at z > 1.5. In contrast, power-law models with ∝t −1 are consistent with the redshift distribution and can accommodate up to ≈30 SGRBs at these redshifts. Under this model, we predict that ≈1/3 of the current Swift population of SGRBs is at z > 1. The future discovery or recovery of existing high-z SGRBs will provide significant discriminating power on their DTDs and thus their formation channels.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society; IOP Publishing
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2020 08:40
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2020 11:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.3847/2041-8213/aba4b0
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13452

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