A kilonova following a long-duration gamma-ray burst at 350 Mpc

Jillian C. Rastinejad*, Benjamin P. Gompertz, Andrew J. Levan, Wen fai Fong, Matt Nicholl, Gavin P. Lamb, Daniele B. Malesani, Anya E. Nugent, Samantha R. Oates, Nial R. Tanvir, Antonio de Ugarte Postigo, Charles D. Kilpatrick, Christopher J. Moore, Brian D. Metzger, Maria Edvige Ravasio, Andrea Rossi, Genevieve Schroeder, Jacob Jencson, David J. Sand, Nathan SmithJosé Feliciano Agüí Fernández, Edo Berger, Peter K. Blanchard, Ryan Chornock, Bethany E. Cobb, Massimiliano De Pasquale, Johan P.U. Fynbo, Luca Izzo, D. Alexander Kann, Tanmoy Laskar, Ester Marini, Kerry Paterson, Alicia Rouco Escorial, Huei M. Sears, Christina C. Thöne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are divided into two populations1,2; long GRBs that derive from the core collapse of massive stars (for example, ref. 3) and short GRBs that form in the merger of two compact objects4,5. Although it is common to divide the two populations at a gamma-ray duration of 2 s, classification based on duration does not always map to the progenitor. Notably, GRBs with short (≲2 s) spikes of prompt gamma-ray emission followed by prolonged, spectrally softer extended emission (EE-SGRBs) have been suggested to arise from compact object mergers6–8. Compact object mergers are of great astrophysical importance as the only confirmed site of rapid neutron capture (r-process) nucleosynthesis, observed in the form of so-called kilonovae9–14. Here we report the discovery of a possible kilonova associated with the nearby (350 Mpc), minute-duration GRB 211211A. The kilonova implies that the progenitor is a compact object merger, suggesting that GRBs with long, complex light curves can be spawned from merger events. The kilonova of GRB 211211A has a similar luminosity, duration and colour to that which accompanied the gravitational wave (GW)-detected binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817 (ref. 4). Further searches for GW signals coincident with long GRBs are a promising route for future multi-messenger astronomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-227
Number of pages5
Issue number7939
Early online date7 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank S. Kattner, S. Self, J. Hinz and I. Chilingarian at the MMT and J. Andrews and K. Chiboucas at Gemini Observatory for their assistance in obtaining observations. We thank A. von Kienlin for providing the GBM hardness versus duration data. We thank P. Schmidt and G. Pratten for assistance with the LIGO S/R calculations. The Fong group at Northwestern acknowledges support by the National Science Foundation under grant nos. AST-1814782 and AST-1909358 and CAREER grant no. AST-2047919. W.F. gratefully acknowledges support by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. A.J.L. and D.B.M. are supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 725246). M.N. and B.P.G. are supported by the ERC under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 948381). M.N. acknowledges a Turing Fellowship. G.P.L. is supported by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council grant ST/S000453/1. A.R. and E.M. acknowledge support from the INAF research project ‘LBT - Supporto Arizona Italia’. J.F.A.F. acknowledges support from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades through the grant PRE2018-086507. D.A.K. and J.F.A.F. acknowledge support from Spanish National Research Project RTI2018-098104-J-I00 (GRBPhot). W. M. Keck Observatory and MMT Observatory access was supported by Northwestern University and the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA). Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. We wish to recognize and acknowledge the very important cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. Observations reported here were obtained at the MMT Observatory, a joint facility of the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution. On the basis of observations obtained at the international Gemini Observatory (programme ID GN2021B-Q-109), a programme of NOIRLab, which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation on behalf of the Gemini Observatory partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), National Research Council (Canada), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Argentina), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brazil) and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea). Processed using the Gemini IRAF package and DRAGONS (Data Reduction for Astronomy from Gemini Observatory North and South). This work made use of data supplied by the UK Swift Science Data Centre at the University of Leicester. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. This research is based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope obtained from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with programme no. 16923. This work is partly based on observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias, installed at the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, on the island of La Palma. Partly based on observations collected at the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory, operated jointly by Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC) and Junta de Andalucía. Partly based on observations made with the Nordic Optical Telescope, under programme 64-502, owned in collaboration by the University of Turku and Aarhus University, and operated jointly by Aarhus University, the University of Turku and the University of Oslo, representing Denmark, Finland and Norway, respectively, the University of Iceland and Stockholm University at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Spain, of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. The LBT is an international collaboration among institutions in the United States, Italy and Germany. LBT Corporation partners are: The University of Arizona on behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents; Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy; LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Germany, representing the Max Planck Society, The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam and Heidelberg University; The Ohio State University, representing OSU, University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota and University of Virginia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'A kilonova following a long-duration gamma-ray burst at 350 Mpc'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this