The dust extinction curves of gamma-ray burst host galaxies

Patricia Schady, Tom Dwelly, Mat J. Page, Thomas Krühler, Jochen Greiner, Samantha R. Oates, Massimiliano De Pasquale, Marco Nardini, Pete W.~A. Roming, Andrea Rossi, Martin Still

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The composition and amount of interstellar dust within gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies is of key importance when addressing selection effects in the GRB redshift distribution, and when studying the properties of their host galaxies. As well as the implications for GRB research, probing the dust within the high-z hosts of GRBs also contributes to our understanding of the conditions of the interstellar medium and star-formation inthe distant Universe. Nevertheless, the physical properties of dust withinGRB host galaxies continues to be a highly contended issue. In this paper we explore the mean extinction properties of dust within the host galaxies of a sample of 17 GRBs with total host galaxy visual extinction AV < 1( AV = 0.4), covering a redshift range z = 0.7−3.1. We find theaverage host extinction curve to have an u ltraviolet slope comparable to that of the LMC, but with little evidence of a 2175 Å dust extinction feature as observed along Milky Way and LMC sightlines. We cannot at present rule out the presence of a 2175 Å feature, and both the standard SMC and LMC extinction curves also provide good fits to our data. However, we can reject an extinction curve that has a UV slope as flat as the mean Milky Way extinction curve, whilst also having a 2175 Å feature as prominent as seen in the mean MilkyWay extinctioncurve. This is incontrast tothe clear detection of a 2175 Å bump and the flatterextinction curves of some more heavily extinguished GRBs (AV > 1), which may be indicative of there being a dependence between dust abundance and the wavelength dependence of dust extinction, as has been previously speculated.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA15
Number of pages19
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Issue number15
Early online date20 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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