Document Type

Article

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Disciplines

Astrophysics and Astronomy | External Galaxies | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy

CIT Disciplines

1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES

Publication Details

The Astrophysical Journal

Abstract

On 2015 March 23, the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) responded to a Swift-Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) detection of a gamma-ray burst, with observations beginning 270 s after the onset of BAT emission, and only 135 s after the main BAT emission peak. No statistically significant signal is detected above 140 GeV. The VERITAS upper limit on the fluence in a 40-minute integration corresponds to about 1% of the prompt fluence. Our limit is particularly significant because the very-high-energy (VHE) observation started only ~2 minutes after the prompt emission peaked, and Fermi-Large Area Telescope observations of numerous other bursts have revealed that the high-energy emission is typically delayed relative to the prompt radiation and lasts significantly longer. Also, the proximity of GRB 150323A (z = 0.593) limits the attenuation by the extragalactic background light to ~50% at 100–200 GeV. We conclude that GRB 150323A had an intrinsically very weak high-energy afterglow, or that the GeV spectrum had a turnover below ~100 GeV. If the GRB exploded into the stellar wind of a massive progenitor, the VHE non-detection constrains the wind density parameter to be A 3 × 1011 g cm−1, consistent with a standard Wolf–Rayet progenitor. Alternatively, the VHE emission from the blast wave would be weak in a very tenuous medium such as the interstellar medium, which therefore cannot be ruled out as the environment of GRB 150323A.

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