Hubble Space Telescope STIS observations of GRB 000301C: CCD imaging and near-ultraviolet MAMA spectroscopy

A. Smette, A.S. Fruchter, T.R. Gull, K.C. Sahu, L. Petro, H. Ferguson, J. Rhoads, D.J. Lindler, R. Gibbons, D.W. Hogg, C. Kouveliotou, M. Livio, D. Macchetto, M.R. Metzger, H. Pedersen, E. Pian, S.E. Thorsett, R.A.M.J. Wijers, J.P.U. Fynbo, J. GorosabelJ. Hjorth, B.L. Jensen, A. Levine, D.A. Smith, T. Cline, K. Hurley, J. Trombka

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    We present Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph observations of the optical transient (OT) counterpart of the c-ray burster GRB 000301C obtained 5 days after the burst, on 2000 March 6. CCD clear-aperture imaging reveals a R similar or equal to 21.50 +/- 0.15 source with no apparent host galaxy. An 8000 s, 1150 Angstrom < <2200 near-ultraviolet MAMA prism spectrum shows a flat or slightly rising continuum (in f(lambda)) between 2800 and 3300 Angstrom, with a mean flux of (8.7(-1.6)(+0.8) +/- 2.6) x 10(-18) ergs s(-1) cm(-2) Angstrom (-1), and a sharp break centered at 2797 +/- 25 Angstrom. We interpret this as the H I Lyman break at z = 2.067 +/- 0.025, indicating the presence of a cloud with an H I column density log N-HI(cm(2)) > 18 on the line of sight to the OT. This measured redshift is conservatively a lower limit to the GRB redshift. However, as all other GRBs that have deep Hubble Space Telescope images appear to lie on the stellar field of a host galaxy, and as the large H I column density measured here and in later ground-based observations is unlikely on a random line of sight, we believe we are probably seeing absorption from H I in the host galaxy. In any case, this represents the largest direct redshift determination of a c-ray burster to date. Our data are compatible with an OT spectrum represented by a power law with an intrinsic index alpha = 1.2 (f(nu) proportional to nu (-alpha)) and no extinction in the host galaxy, or with alpha = 0.5 and extinction by SMC-like dust in the OT rest frame with A(V) = 0.15. The large N-HI and the lack of a detected host are similar to the situation for damped Ly alpha absorbers at z > 2.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)70-76
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • gamma rays : bursts


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