GRBs as probes of the early universe with TSO

Nial Tanvir, Jonathan Grindlay, Edo Berger, Brian Metzger, Suvi Gezari, Zeljko Ivezic, Jacob Jencson, Mansi Kasliwal, Alexander Kutyrev, Chelsea Macleod, Gary Melnick, Bill Purcell, George Rieke, Yue Shen, Michael Wood Vasey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous known electromagnetic radiation sources in the Universe for the ~3 - 300 sec of their prompt flashes (isotropic X/γ -ray luminosities up to ~1053 erg s-1). Their afterglows have first day rest-frame UV/optical absolute magnitudes AB ~ -30 - -23. This luminous continuum nUV-nIR back-light provides the ultimate probe of the SFR(z) back to the first Pop III-II.5 stars, expected to be massive and GRB progenitors. GRB afterglow spectra in the first ~1-3 hours will directly measure their host galaxy ionization fraction xi vs. z in the Epoch of Reionization (EOR), tracing the growth of structure. Only 28% of Swift GRBs have measured redshifts due to limited followup at R, J <21. Some ~25% of GRBs are optically dark due to dust absorption in their host galaxies, but those with low NH in their X-ray spectra are likely at z >7. Current 8-10m telescopes and coming ELTs cannot pursue optically dark GRBs promptly, nor can JWST or WFIRST slew within ~0.5-1 days of a GRB. The Time-domain Spectroscopic Observatory (TSO) is a proposed Probe-class 1.3m telescope at L2, with imaging and spectroscopy (R = 200, 1800) in 4 bands (0.3 - 5µm) and rapid slew capability to 90% of sky. TSO would finally utilize z > 6 - 12 GRBs as the most direct probe of the SFR(z), EOR(z), and possibly the first direct detection of the core collapse of the very first (Pop III) stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Mar 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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