Anatomy of a dark burst - The afterglow of GRB 060108

S. R. Oates, C. G. Mundell, S. Piranomonte, K. L. Page, M. De Pasquale, A. Monfardini, A. Melandri, S. Zane, C. Guidorzi, D. Malesani, A. Gomboc, N. Bannister, A. J. Blustin, M. Capalbi, D. Carter, P. D'Avanzo, S. Kobayashi, H. A. Krimm, P. T. O'Brien, M. J. PageR. J. Smith, I. A. Steele, N. Tanvir

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21 Citations (SciVal)


We present a multiwavelength study of GRB 060108 - the 100th gamma-ray burst discovered by Swift. The X-ray flux and light curve (three segments plus a flare) detected with the X-ray Telescope are typical of Swift long bursts. We report the discovery of a faint optical afterglow detected in deep BVRi′-band imaging obtained with the Faulkes Telescope North beginning 2.75 min after the burst. The afterglow is below the detection limit of the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope within 100 s of the burst, while is evident in K-band images taken with the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope 45 min after the burst. The optical light curve is sparsely sampled. Observations taken in the R and i′ bands can be fitted either with a single power-law decay in flux, F(t) ∝ r where α = 0.43 ± 0.08, or with a two-segment light curve with an initial steep decay α 1 < 0.88 ±0.2, flattening to a slope α 2 ∼ 0.31 ± 0.12. A marginal evidence for rebrightening is seen in the i′ band. Deep A-band imaging obtained ∼ 12 d post-burst with the Very Large Telescope reveals a faint, extended object (R ∼ 23.5 mag) at the location of the afterglow. Although the brightness is compatible with the extrapolation of the slow decay with index α 2, significant flux is likely due to a host galaxy. This implies that the optical light curve had a break before 12 d, akin to what observed in the X-rays.We derive the maximum photometric redshift z < 3.2 for GRB 060108. We find that the spectral energy distribution at 1000 s after the burst, from the optical to the X-ray range, is best fitted by a simple power law, F v ∝ v , with β ox = 0.54 and a small amount of extinction. The optical to X-ray spectral index (β ox) confirms GRB 060108 to be one of the optically darkest bursts detected. Our observations rule out a high redshift as the reason for the optical faintness of GRB 060108. We conclude that a more likely explanation is a combination of an intrinsic optical faintness of the burst, a hard optical to X-ray spectrum and a moderate amount of extinction in the host galaxy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-337
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


  • Gamma-rays: bursts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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