A Population of Short-duration Gamma-Ray Bursts with Dwarf Host Galaxies

Anya E. Nugent, Wen Fai Fong, Cristian Castrejon, Joel Leja, Michael Zevin, Alexander P. Ji

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Abstract

We present a population of 11 of the faintest (>25.5 AB mag) short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies. We model their sparse available observations using the stellar population inference code Prospector-β and develop a novel implementation to incorporate the galaxy mass-radius relation. Assuming these hosts are randomly drawn from the galaxy population and conditioning this draw on their observed flux and size in a few photometric bands, we determine that these hosts have dwarf galaxy stellar masses of 7.0 ≲ log ( M * / M ⊙ ) ≲ 9.1 . This is striking as only 14% of short GRB hosts with previous inferred stellar masses had M * ≲ 109 M . We further show these short GRBs have smaller physical and host-normalized offsets than the rest of the population, suggesting that the majority of their neutron star (NS) merger progenitors were retained within their hosts. The presumably shallow potentials of these hosts translate to small escape velocities of ∼5.5-80 km s−1, indicative of either low postsupernova systemic velocities or short inspiral times. While short GRBs with identified dwarf host galaxies now comprise ≈14% of the total Swift-detected population, a number are likely missing in the current population, as larger systemic velocities (observed from the Galactic NS population) would result in highly offset short GRBs and less secure host associations. However, the revelation of a population of short GRBs retained in low-mass host galaxies offers a natural explanation for the observed r-process enrichment via NS mergers in Local Group dwarf galaxies, and has implications for gravitational-wave follow-up strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume962
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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