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Astron. Astrophys. 339, L1-L4 (1998)

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Letter to the Editor

The nature of the host galaxies for gamma-ray bursts

Shude Mao and H.J. Mo

Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 1, D-85740 Garching, Germany

Received 21 August 1998 / Accepted 31 August 1998


It has been suggested recently that the rate of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is proportional to the star formation rate in the universe. In this paper, we study the nature of GRB hosts expected in this scenario. We improve upon previous studies by incorporating a luminosity function for the GRBs, as required by observations. This model provides a good match to the observed number counts of GRBs as a function of peak-count rate. The model predicts that the host galaxies have their redshift distribution peaked around [FORMULA], and about 15 percent have [FORMULA]. This high-redshift fraction have the same properties as the star-forming galaxies recently discovered by the Lyman-break technique. At [FORMULA], many of the GRBs may be hosted by faint blue galaxies. Using a photometric redshift sample of galaxies from the Hubble Deep Field, we find that the host galaxies have magnitudes in the range from 21.5 to 28 in the I-band, and about 90 percent of them have semi-major axis smaller than [FORMULA]. Assuming isotropic emission, the typical peak-luminosity and total energy of GRBs are [FORMULA] and [FORMULA] in an Einstein-de Sitter universe with [FORMULA]. We also discuss further observational tests of this scenario.

Key words: gamma-ray: bursts – galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: starbursts

Send offprint requests to: S. Mao
Send correspondence to: smao, hom)@mpa-garching.mpg.de

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: September 30, 1998