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Title: AN INDEPENDENT MEASUREMENT OF THE INCIDENCE OF Mg II ABSORBERS ALONG GAMMA-RAY BURST SIGHT LINES: THE END OF THE MYSTERY?

In 2006, Prochter et al. reported a statistically significant enhancement of very strong Mg II absorption systems intervening the sight lines to gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) relative to the incidence of such absorption along quasar sight lines. This counterintuitive result has inspired a diverse set of astrophysical explanations (e.g., dust, gravitational lensing) but none of these has obviously resolved the puzzle. Using the largest set of GRB afterglow spectra available, we reexamine the purported enhancement. In an independent sample of GRB spectra with a survey path three times larger than Prochter et al., we measure the incidence per unit redshift of {>=}1 A rest-frame equivalent width Mg II absorbers at z Almost-Equal-To 1 to be l(z) = 0.18 {+-} 0.06. This is fully consistent with current estimates for the incidence of such absorbers along quasar sight lines. Therefore, we do not confirm the original enhancement and suggest those results suffered from a statistical fluke. Signatures of the original result do remain in our full sample (l(z) shows an Almost-Equal-To 1.5 enhancement over l(z){sub QSO}), but the statistical significance now lies at Almost-Equal-To 90% c.l. Restricting our analysis to the subset of high-resolution spectra of GRB afterglows (which overlaps substantially with Prochtermore » et al.), we still reproduce a statistically significant enhancement of Mg II absorption. The reason for this excess, if real, is still unclear since there is no connection between the rapid afterglow follow-up process with echelle (or echellette) spectrographs and the detectability of strong Mg II doublets. Only a larger sample of such high-resolution data will shed some light on this matter.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ; ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ; ;  [7] ;  [8] ; ;  [9] ;  [10] ;  [11] ; ;  [12]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218 (United States)
  3. Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, DK-2100 Copenhagen (Denmark)
  4. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802 (United States)
  5. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637 (United States)
  6. MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 37-685, Cambridge, MA 02139 (United States)
  7. Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3411 (United States)
  8. Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, MC 249-17, 1200 East California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
  9. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (United States)
  10. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH (United Kingdom)
  11. Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Via di Frascati 33, I-00040 Monte Porzio Catone (RM) (Italy)
  12. Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 36-D, Santiago (Chile)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22131024
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 773; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABSORPTION; AFTERGLOW; ASTROPHYSICS; COSMIC DUST; COSMIC GAMMA BURSTS; GRAVITATIONAL LENSES; QUASARS; RED SHIFT; SPECTRA