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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-12-14
    Description: Highlights • Northern Hispaniola Margin is studied with new high-resolution bathymetry and vintage seismic data. • Northern Hispaniola Deformed Belt forms an active N-verging fold-and-thrust imbricate system. • Gravity failures are frequent features in the Northern Hispaniola Margin and Bahamas Banks slope. • Oblique collision accelerates the Bahamas Carbonate Province collapse and retreat. • New observations help the assessment of tsunami hazards in the Northern Caribbean region. Abstract The northern margin of Hispaniola records the oblique collision/underthrusting of the Bahamas Carbonate Province with the island-arc. Due to the collision, northern Hispaniola has suffered several natural disasters caused by major earthquakes and tsunamis, such as the historic earthquake of 1842, the tsunami caused by earthquake-driven slumping in 1918 in the Mona Passage, the seismic crisis of 1943–1953 with five events of M 〉 7.0 or the seismic crisis of 2003 with a main shock of M6.3 and a large aftershock of M5.3. Using new swath multibeam bathymetry data and vintage single- and multi-channel seismic profiles, we have performed a regional scale analysis and interpretation of the shallow surface and active processes along the northern margin of the Dominican Republic. We have identified three morphostructural provinces: a) the Bahamas Banks, b) the Hispaniola Trench and c) the Insular Margin, which are divided into two tectonic domains, the Collision Domain and Underthrusting Domain. The southern slope of the Bahamas Carbonate Province shows a very irregular morphology produced by active erosive processes and normal dip-slip faulting, evidence of an extensional tectonic regime and margin collapse. This collapse is of major extent in the Oblique Collision Domain where there are erosive and fault escarpments with higher dip-slip fault throws. The Hispaniola Trench, is formed by the Caicos and Hispaniola basins in the underthrusting domain, and by the Santisima Trinidad and Navidad basins in the Oblique Collision Domain. They have a flat seafloor with a sedimentary filling of variable thickness consisting of horizontal or sub-horizontal turbiditic levels. The turbiditic fill mostly proceeds from the island arc through wide channels and canyons, which transports sediment from the shelf and upper slope. The Insular Margin comprises the Insular Shelf and the Insular Slope. The active processes are generated on the Insular Slope where the Northern Hispaniola Deformed Belt is developed. This Deformed Belt shows a very irregular morphology, with a WNW-ESE trending N verging imbricate thrust-and fold system. This system is the result of the adjustment of the oblique collision/underthrusting between the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. In the Oblique Underthrusting Domain the along-strike development of the imbricate system is highly variable forming salients and recesses. This variability is due to along-strike changes in the sediment thickness of the Hispaniola Trench, as well as to the variable topography of the underthrusting Bahamas Carbonate Province. In the Oblique Collision Domain, the morphology of the Insular Slope and the development of the Deformed Belt deeply change. The imbricate system is barely inferred and lies upslope. These changes are due to the active collision of Bahamas Carbonate Province with the Insular Margin where the spurs are indented against the Insular Margin. Throughout the entire area studied, gravitational instabilities have been observed, especially on the Insular Margin and to a lesser extent on the southern slope of the Bahamas Carbonate Province. These instabilities are a direct consequence of the active underthrusting/collision process. We have mapped large individual slumps north of Puerto Plata in the Oblique Underthrusting Domain and zones of major slumps in the Oblique Collision Domain. These evidences of active processes must be considered as near-field sources in future studies on the assessment of tsunami hazards in the region.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-06-12
    Description: We report on the discovery of the optical afterglow of the X-ray rich, long-duration gamma-ray burst GRB 011211, and the oscillatory behavior present in its optical and X-ray afterglow light curve. The time scale of the fluctuations, -1 hour, is much smaller than the time of the observations, -12 hours from the onset of the gamma-ray burst. The character and strength of the fluctuations visible in the optical data are unprecedented, and are inconsistent with causally connected variations in the emission of a symmetric, relativistic blast wave. Moreover, the differential time lag between the short-term variations in X-ray and optical energies suggests they do not arise from the same emitting region. Such variability may imply that local spherical symmetry is broken because the energy content across the jet-emitting surface is not uniform, indicating the detection of a small scale substructure within the jet itself.
    Keywords: Astronomy
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2018-06-12
    Description: We report early follow-up observations of the error box of the short burst 050813 using the telescopes at Calar Alto and at Observatorio Sierra Nevada (OSN), followed by deep VLT/FORS2 I-band observations obtained under very good seeing conditions 5.7 and 11.7 days after the event. No evidence for a GRB afterglow was found in our Calar Alto and OSN data, no rising supernova component was detected in our FORS2 images. A potential host galaxy can be identified in our FORS2 images, even though we cannot state with certainty its association with GRB 050813. IN any case, the optical afterglow of GRB 050813 was very faint, well in agreement with what is known so far about the optical properties of afterglows of short bursts. We conclude that all optical data are not in conflict with the interpretation that GRB 050813 was a short burst.
    Keywords: Astronomy
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-06-12
    Description: We report on follow-up observations of the gamma-ray burst GRB 060927 using the robotic ROTSE-IIIa telescope and a suite of larger aperture groundbased telescopes. An optical afterglow was detected 20 s after the burst, the earliest rest-frame detection of optical emission from any GRB. Spectroscopy performed with the VLT about 13 hours after the trigger shows a continuum break at lambda approx. equals 8070 A, produced by neutral hydrogen absorption at zeta = 5.6. We also detect an absorption line at 8158 A which we interpret as Si II lambda 1260 at zeta = 5.467. Hence, GRB 060927 is the second most distant GRB with a spectroscopically measured redshift. The shape of the red wing of the spectral break can be fitted by a damped Ly(alpha) profile with a column density with log(N(sub HI)/sq cm) = 22.50 +/- 0.15. We discuss the implications of this work for the use of GRBs as probes of the end of the dark ages and draw three main conclusions: i) GRB afterglows originating from zeta greater than or approx. equal to 6 should be relatively easy to detect from the ground, but rapid near-infrared monitoring is necessary to ensure that they are found; ii) The presence of large H I column densities in some GRBs host galaxies at zeta 〉 5 makes the use of GRBs to probe the reionization epoch via spectroscopy of the red damping wing challenging; iii) GRBs appear crucial to locate typical star-forming galaxies at zeta 〉 5 and therefore the type of galaxies responsible for the reionization of the universe.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: We present a comprehensive analysis of a bright, long duration (T(sub 90) approx. 257 s) GRB 110205A at redshift z = 2.22. The optical prompt emission was detected by Swift/UVOT, ROTSE-IIIb and BOOTES telescopes when the GRB was still radiating in the gamma-ray band. Thanks to its long duration, nearly 200 s of observations were obtained simultaneously from optical, X-ray to gamma-ray (1 eV - 5 MeV), which makes it one of the exceptional cases to study the broadband spectral energy distribution across 6 orders of magnitude in energy during the prompt emission phase. In particular, by fitting the time resolved prompt spectra, we clearly identify, for the first time, an interesting two-break energy spectrum, roughly consistent with the standard GRB synchrotron emission model in the fast cooling regime. Although the prompt optical emission is brighter than the extrapolation of the best fit X/ -ray spectra, it traces the -ray light curve shape, suggesting a relation to the prompt high energy emission. The synchrotron + synchrotron self-Compton (SSC) scenario is disfavored by the data, but the models invoking a pair of internal shocks or having two emission regions can interpret the data well. Shortly after prompt emission (approx. 1100 s), a bright (R = 14.0) optical emission hump with very steep rise ( alpha approx. 5.5) was observed which we interpret as the emission from the reverse shock. It is the first time that the rising phase of a reverse shock component has been closely observed.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC.JA.5941.2012
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: Long Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most dramatic examples of massive stellar deaths, usually associated with supernovae. They release ultra-relativistic jets producing non-thermal emission through synchrotron radiation as they interact with the surrounding medium. Here we report observations of the peculiar GRB 101225A (the "Christmas burst"). Its gamma-ray emission was exceptionally long and followed by a bright X-ray transient with a hot thermal component and an unusual optical couuterpart. During the first 10 days, the optical emission evolved as an expanding, cooling blackbody after which an additional component, consistent with a faint supernova, emerged. We determine its distance to 1.6 Gpc by fitting the spectral-energy distribution and light curve of the optical emission with a GRB-supernova template. Deep optical observations may have revealed a faint, unresolved host galaxy. Our proposed progenitor is a helium star-neutron star merger that underwent a common envelope phase expelling its hydrogen envelope. The resulting explosion created a GRB-like jet which gets thermalized by interacting with the dense, previously ejected material and thus creating the observed black-body, until finally the emission from the supernova dominated. An alternative explanation is a minor body falling onto a neutron star io the Galaxy
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC.JA.01106.2012
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: X-ray flashes (XRFs) are, like gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), thought to signal the collapse of massive stars in distant galaxies. Many models posit that the isotropic equivalent energies of XRFs are lower than those for GRBs, such that they are visible fiom a reduced range of distances when compared with GRBs. Here we present the results of two-epoch Hubble Space Telescope imaging of two XRFs. These images, taken approximately 45 and 200 days postburst, reveal no evidence of an associated supernova in either case. Supernovae such as SN 1998bw would have been visible out to z approximately 1.5 in each case, while fainter supernovae such as SN 2002ap would have been visible to z approximately 1. If the XRFs lie at such large distances, their energies would not fit the observed correlation between the GRB peak energy and isotropic energy release (E(sub p) proportional to E(sub iso)(sup 1/2), in which soft bursts are less energetic. We conclude that, should these XRFs reside at low redshifts (z less than 0.6), either their line of sight is heavily extinguished, they are associated with extremely faint supernovae, or, unlike GRBs, these XRFs do not have temporally coincident supernovae.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: The Astrophysical Journal; 622; 977-985
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: We present our successful program using Chandra for identifying the X-ray afterglow with sub-arcsecond accuracy for the short GRB 111117A d iscovered by Swift and Fermi. Thanks to our rapid target of opportuni ty request, Chandra clearly detected the X-ray afterglow, whereas no optical afterglow was found in deep optical observations. Instead, we clearly detect the host galaxy in optica; and also in near-infrared b ands. We found that the best photometric redshift fitofthe host is z = 1.31:(+0.46/-0.23) (90% confidence), making it one of the highest redshift short GRBs. Furthermore, we see an offset of 1.0+/-O.2 arcseco nds, which corresponds to 8.4+/-1.7 kpc aSBuming z= 1.31, between the host and the afterglow position. We discuss the importance of using Chandra for obtaining sub-arcsecond localization of the afterglow in X -rays for short GRBs to study GRB environments in great detail.
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC.JA.7136.2012
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We introduce the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Host Galaxy Legacy Survey (SHOALS), a multi-observatory high redshift galaxy survey targeting the largest unbiased sample of long-duration gamma-ray burst (GRB) hosts yet assembled (119 in total). We describe the motivations of the survey and the development of our selection criteria, including an assessment of the impact of various observability metrics on the success rate of afterglow-based redshift measurement. We briefly outline our host galaxy observational program, consisting of deep Spitzer/IRAC imaging of every field supplemented by similarly deep, multicolor optical/near-IR photometry, plus spectroscopy of events without preexisting redshifts. Our optimized selection cuts combined with host galaxy follow-up have so far enabled redshift measurements for 110 targets (92%) and placed upper limits on all but one of the remainder. About 20% of GRBs in the sample are heavily dust obscured, and at most 2% originate from z 〉 5.5. Using this sample, we estimate the redshift-dependent GRB rate density, showing it to peak at z approx. 2.5 and fall by at least an order of magnitude toward low (z = 0) redshift, while declining more gradually toward high (z approx. 7) redshift. This behavior is consistent with a progenitor whose formation efficiency varies modestly over cosmic history. Our survey will permit the most detailed examination to date of the connection between the GRB host population and general star-forming galaxies, directly measure evolution in the host population over cosmic time and discern its causes, and provide new constraints on the fraction of cosmic star formation occurring in undetectable galaxies at all redshifts.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN41447 , The Astrophysical Journal (ISSN 0004-637X) (e-ISSN 1538-4357); 817; 1; 7
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-18
    Description: We have obtained near-infrared and high-resolution optical spectroscopy of the bright afterglow of the very intense gamma-ray burst recorded on 2002, October 4 (GRB 021004). Besides of line emission in the near-IR allowing an independent measurement of the systemic redshift (z = 2.3304 plus or minus 0.0005), we find several absorption line groups spanning a range of about 3,000 kilometers per second in velocity relative to the redshift of the host galaxy. The absorption profiles are very complex with both velocity-broadened components extending over several 100 kilometers per second and narrow lines with velocity widths of only approximately 20 kilometers per second. By analogy with QSO absorption line studies, the relative velocities, widths, and degrees of ionization of the lines ("line-locking", "ionization-velocity correlation") show that the progenitor had both an extremely strong radiation field and several distinct mass loss phases (winds). These results are consistent with GRB progenitors being massive stars, such as Luminous Blue Variables (LBVs) or Wolf-Rayet stars, providing a detailed picture of the spatial and velocity structure of the GRB progenitor star at the time of explosion. The host galaxy is a prolific star-forming galaxy with a SFR of approximately 10 solar mass yr(sup -l).
    Keywords: Astrophysics
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