EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 498, Number 1, April IV 2009
Page(s) 89 - 94
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200811571
Published online 24 February 2009
A&A 498, 89-94 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200811571

The redshift and afterglow of the extremely energetic gamma-ray burst GRB 080916C

J. Greiner1, C. Clemens1, T. Krühler1, 2, A. von Kienlin1, A. Rau3, R. Sari4, D. B. Fox5, N. Kawai6, P. Afonso1, M. Ajello7, E. Berger8, S. B. Cenko9, A. Cucchiara5, R. Filgas1, S. Klose10, A. Küpcü Yoldaş11, G. G. Lichti1, S. Löw1, S. McBreen1, 12, T. Nagayama13, A. Rossi10, S. Sato14, G. Szokoly1, 15, A. Yoldaş1, and X.-L. Zhang1

1  Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
    e-mail: [jcg;cclemens;kruehler;azk;pafonso;filgas;grl;sloew;yoldas;zhangx]@mpe.mpg.de
2  Universe Cluster, Technische Universität München, Boltzmannstraße 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3  Optical Observatories, California Inst. of Technology, 1200 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
    e-mail: arne@astro.caltech.edu
4  Dept. of Theor. Astrophysics, California Inst. of Technology, 1200 East California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
    e-mail: sari@tapir.caltech.edu
5  Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA
    e-mail: dfox@astro.psu.edu
6  Dept. of Physics, Tokyo Inst. of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan
    e-mail: nkawai@phys.titech.ac.jp
7  SLAC/KIPAC, 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
    e-mail: majello@slac.stanford.edu
8  Harvard University, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
    e-mail: eberger@cfa.harvard.edu
9  Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
    e-mail: cenko@astro.berkeley.edu
10  Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
    e-mail: [klose;rossi]@tls-tautenburg.de
11  ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85740 Garching, Germany
    e-mail: ayoldas@eso.org
12  School of Physics, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
    e-mail: sheila.mcbreen@ucd.ie
13  Dept. of Astronomy, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
    e-mail: nagayama@kusastro.kyoto-u.ac.jp
14  Department of Astrophysics, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan
    e-mail: ssato@z.phys.nagoya-u.ac.jp
15  Eötvös Univ., 1117 Budapest, Pazmany P. stny. 1/A, Hungary
    e-mail: szgyula@elte.hu

Received 22 December 2008 / Accepted 7 February 2009

Context. The detection of GeV photons from gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) has important consequences for the interpretation and modelling of these most-energetic cosmological explosions. The full exploitation of the high-energy measurements relies, however, on accurate knowledge of the distance to the events.
Aims. Here we report on the discovery of the afterglow and subsequent redshift determination of GRB 080916C, the first GRB detected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope with high significance detection of photons at energies >0.1 GeV.
Methods. Observations were done with the 7-channel “Gamma-Ray Optical and Near-infrared Detector” (GROND) at the 2.2 m MPI/ESO telescope, the SIRIUS instrument at the Nagoya-SAAO 1.4 m telescope in South Africa, and the GMOS instrument at Gemini-S.
Results. The afterglow photometric redshift of $z = 4.35 \pm 0.15$, based on simultaneous 7-filter observations with GROND, places GRB 080916C among the top 5% most distant GRBs and makes it the most energetic GRB known to date. The detection of GeV photons from such a distant event is unexpected because of the predicted opacity due to interaction with the extragalactic background light. The observed gamma-ray variability in the prompt emission, together with the redshift, suggests a lower limit for the Lorentz factor of the ultra-relativistic ejecta of $\Gamma > 1090$. This value rivals any previous measurements of $\Gamma$ in GRBs and strengthens the extreme nature of GRB 080916C.

Key words: techniques: photometric -- gamma rays: bursts

© ESO 2009

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