The broadband counterpart of the short GRB 200522A at z = 0.5536: a luminous kilonova or a collimated outflow with a reverse shock?

W. Fong, T. Laskar, J. Rastinejad, A. Rouco Escorial, G. Schroeder, J. Barnes, C. D. Kilpatrick, K. Paterson, E. Berger, B. D. Metzger, Y. Dong, A. E. Nugent, R. Strausbaugh, P. K. Blanchard, A. Goyal, A. Cucchiara, G. Terreran, K. D. Alexander, T. Eftekhari, C. FryerB. Margalit, R. Margutti, Matt Nicholl

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We present the discovery of the radio afterglow and near-infrared (NIR) counterpart of the Swift short gamma-ray burst (GRB) GRB 200522A, located at a small projected offset of ≈1 kpc from the center of a young, star-forming host galaxy at z = 0.5536. The radio and X-ray luminosities of the afterglow are consistent with those of on-axis cosmological short GRBs. The NIR counterpart, revealed by our Hubble Space Telescope observations at a rest-frame time of ≈2.3 days, has a luminosity of ≈(1.3–1.7) × 1042 erg s−1. This is substantially lower than on-axis short GRB afterglow detections but is a factor of ≈8–17 more luminous than the kilonova of GW170817 and significantly more luminous than any kilonova candidate for which comparable observations exist. The combination of the counterpart's color (i − y = −0.08 ± 0.21; rest frame) and luminosity cannot be explained by standard radioactive heating alone. We present two scenarios to interpret the broadband behavior of GRB 200522A: a synchrotron forward shock with a luminous kilonova (potentially boosted by magnetar energy deposition), or forward and reverse shocks from a ≈14°, relativistic (Γ≳ 10) jet. Models that include a combination of enhanced radioactive heating rates, low-lanthanide mass fractions, or additional sources of heating from late-time central engine activity may provide viable alternate explanations. If a stable magnetar was indeed produced in GRB 200522A, we predict that late-time radio emission will be detectable starting ≈0.3–6 yr after the burst for a deposited energy of ≈1053 erg. Counterparts of similar luminosity to GRB 200522A associated with gravitational wave events will be detectable with current optical searches to ≈250 Mpc.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127
Number of pages26
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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