The bright Gamma-Ray Burst of February 10, 2000: a case study of an optically dark GRB

Research paper by L. Piro, D. A. Frail, J. Gorosabel, G. Garmire, P. Soffitta, L. Amati, M. I. Andersen, L. A. Antonelli, E. Berger, F. Frontera, J. Fynbo, G. Gandolfi, M. R. Garcia, J. Hjorth, J. in 't Zand, et al.

Indexed on: 26 Jun '02Published on: 26 Jun '02Published in: Astrophysics


The gamma-ray burst GRB000210 had the highest gamma-ray peak flux of any event localized by BeppoSAX as yet but it did not have a detected optical afterglow. It is therefore one of the events recently classified as dark GRBs or GHOST (GRB Hiding Optical Source Transient), whose origin is still unclear. Chandra observations allowed us to localize this GRB within ~1" and a radio transient was detected with the VLA. We identify the likely (P=0.01) host galaxy of this burst at z=0.846. The X-ray spectrum of the afterglow shows intrinsic absorption N_H=5x10**21 cm-2. The amount of dust needed to absorb the optical flux of this object is consistent with the above HI column density, given a dust-to-gas ratio similar to that of our Galaxy. We do not find evidence for a partially ionized absorber expected if the absorption takes place in a Giant Molecular Cloud. We therefore conclude that either the gas is local to the GRB, but is condensed in small-scale high-density (n>~10**9 cm-3) clouds, or that the GRB is located in a dusty, gas-rich region of the galaxy. Finally, if GRB000210 lies at z>5, its X-ray absorbing medium would have to be substantially different from that observed in GRBs with optical afterglows.