We report here the discovery by the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) of iPTF14yb, a luminous(Mr ≈ -27.8 mag), cosmological (redshift 1.9733), rapidly fading optical transient. We demonstrate, based onprobabilistic arguments and a comparison with the broader population, that iPTF14yb is the optical afterglow ofthe long-duration gamma-ray burst GRB 140226A. This marks the first unambiguous discovery of a GRBafterglow prior to (and thus entirely independent of) an associated high-energy trigger. We estimate the rate ofiPTF14yb-like sources (i.e., cosmologically distant relativistic explosions) based on iPTF observations, inferringan all-sky value of Rrel = 610 yr?1 (68% confidence interval of 1102000 yr?1). Our derived rate is consistent(within the large uncertainty) with the all-sky rate of on-axis GRBs derived by the Swift satellite. Finally, webriefly discuss the implications of the nondetection to date of bona fide orphan afterglows (i.e., those lackingdetectable high-energy emission) on GRB beaming and the degree of baryon loading in these relativistic jets.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science