Discovery of radio afterglow from the most distant cosmic explosion

Poonam Chandra, Dale A. Frail, Derek Fox, Shrinivas Kulkarni, Edo Berger, S. Bradley Cenko, Douglas C.J. Bock, Fiona Harrsion, Mansi Kasliwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We report on the discovery of radio afterglow emission from the gamma-ray burst GRB090423, which exploded at a redshift of 8.3, making it the object with the highest known redshift in the universe. By combining our radio measurements with existing X-ray and infrared observations, we estimate the kinetic energy of the afterglow, the geometry of the outflow, and the density of the circumburst medium. Our best-fit model suggests a quasi-spherical, high-energy explosion in a low, constant-density medium. GRB 090423 had a similar energy release to the other well-studied high redshift GRB 050904 (z = 6.26), but their circumburst densities differ by 2 orders of magnitude. We compare the properties of GRB 090423 with a sample of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) at moderate redshifts. We find that the high energy and afterglow properties of GRB 090423 are not sufficiently different from other GRBs to suggest a different kind of progenitor, such as a Population III (Pop III) star. However, we argue that it is not clear that the afterglow properties alone can provide convincing identification of Pop III progenitors. We suggest that the millimeter and centimeter radio detections of GRB 090423 at early times contained emission from the reverse shock. If true, this may have important implications for the detection of high-redshift GRBs by the next generation of radio facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L31-L35
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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