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Title: X-ray absorption evolution in gamma-ray bursts: intergalactic medium or evolutionary signature of their host galaxies
Authors: Starling, R. L. C.
Willingale, R.
Tanvir, N. R.
Scott, A. E.
Wiersema, K.
O'Brien, P. T.
Levan, A. J.
Stewart, G. C.
First Published: 1-Apr-2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP), Royal Astronomical Society
Citation: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2013, 431 (4), pp. 3159-3176 (18)
Abstract: The intrinsic X-ray emission of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is often found to be absorbed over and above the column density through our own Galaxy. The extra component is usually assumed to be due to absorbing gas lying within the host galaxy of the GRB itself. There is an apparent correlation between the equivalent column density of hydrogen, NH,intrinsic (assuming it to be at the GRB redshift), and redshift, z, with the few z > 6 GRBs showing the greatest intrinsic column densities. We investigate the NH, intrinsic-z relation using a large sample of Swift GRBs, as well as active galactic nuclei and quasar samples, paying particular attention to the spectral energy distributions of the two highest redshift GRBs. Various possible sample biases and systematics that might produce such a correlation are considered, and we conclude that the correlation is very likely to be real. This may indicate either an evolutionary effect in the host galaxy properties, or a contribution from gas along the line of sight, in the diffuse intergalactic medium (IGM) or intervening absorbing clouds. Employing a more realistic model for IGM absorption than in previous works, we find that this may explain much of the observed opacity at z ≳ 3 providing it is not too hot, likely between 105 and 106.5 K, and moderately metal enriched, Z ∼ 0.2 Z⊙. This material could therefore constitute the warm–hot intergalactic medium. However, a comparable level of absorption is also expected from the cumulative effect of intervening cold gas clouds, and given current uncertainties it is not possible to say which, if either, dominates. At lower redshifts, we conclude that gas in the host galaxies must be the dominant contributor to the observed X-ray absorption.
DOI Link: 10.1093/mnras/stt400
ISSN: 0035-8711
eISSN: 1365-2966
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Archived with reference to SHERPA/RoMEO and publisher website. This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2013 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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