Using STIS to find gamma-ray burst redshifts

Joshua S. Bloom, Steinn Sigurdsson, Ralph A.M.J. Wijers, Omar Almaini, Niai R. Tanvir, Rachel A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

A recent spectrum of the optical afterglow of GRB 970508 suggests that gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are cosmological in origin, and it is of crucial importance to derive an accurate distance to each burst. If GRBs occur near their host galaxies (≪40 kpc) then Lyman limit absorption [N(H I) ≥ 1.6 × 1017 cm-2] should be observable in roughly half the GRB after-glow spectra. Here we outline the methodology to obtain a redshift from the GRB afterglow spectrum using the recently installed Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) instrument on board the Hubble Space Telescope. A low-resolution spectrum with the Multi-Anode Microchannel Array (MAMA) detector gives complete spectral coverage over the wavelength range 1570-3180 A (near-ultraviolet: NUV) and 1150-1740 Å (far-ultraviolet: FUV). Assuming that a Target of Opportunity observation is conducted soon (≲3 weeks) after a bright burst, a relatively small integration time (∼3 orbits) would be sufficient to detect the Lyman limit over a wide redshift range (0.3 ≲ z ≲ 2.2). Detection (or non-detection) of the Lyman limit, in concert with ground-based observations of nearby galaxies and Mg II and C IV absorption lines, should provide meaningful constraints on the relationship of GRBs to galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L55-L58
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume292
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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