Gamma-ray burster counterparts: Hubble Space Telescope blue and ultraviolet data

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The surest solution of the gamma-ray burst (GRB) mystery is to find an unambiguous low-energy quiescent counterpart. However, to date no reasonable candidates have been identified in the X-ray, optical, infrared, or radio ranges. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has now allowed for the first deep ultraviolet searches for quiescent counterparts. This paper reports on multiepoch ultraviolet searches of five GRB positions with HST. We found no sources with significant ultraviolet excesses, variability, parallax, or proper motion in any of the burst error regions. In particular, we see no sources similar to that proposed as a counterpart to the GRB 970228. While this negative result is disappointing, it still has good utility for its strict limits on the no-host-galaxy problem in cosmological models of GRBs. For most cosmological models (with peak luminosity 6 × 1050 ergs s-1), the absolute B magnitude of any possible host galaxy must be fainter than -15.5 to -17.4. These smallest boxes for some of the brightest bursts provide the most critical test, and our limits are a severe problem for all published cosmological burst models. © 1997. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Astrophysical Journal

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