ZTF20aajnksq (AT 2020blt): A Fast Optical Transient at z ≈ 2.9 with No Detected Gamma-Ray Burst Counterpart

December 2020 • 2020ApJ...905...98H

Authors • Ho, Anna Y. Q. • Perley, Daniel A. • Beniamini, Paz • Cenko, S. Bradley • Kulkarni, S. R. • Andreoni, Igor • Singer, Leo P. • De, Kishalay • Kasliwal, Mansi M. • Fremling, Christoffer • Bellm, Eric C. • Dekany, Richard • Delacroix, Alexandre • Duev, Dmitry A. • Goldstein, Daniel A. • Golkhou, V. Zach • Goobar, Ariel • Graham, Matthew J. • Hale, David • Kupfer, Thomas • Laher, Russ R. • Masci, Frank J. • Miller, Adam A. • Neill, James D. • Riddle, Reed • Rusholme, Ben • Shupe, David L. • Smith, Roger • Sollerman, Jesper • van Roestel, Jan

Abstract • We present ZTF20aajnksq (AT 2020blt), a fast-fading (Δr = 2.3 mag in Δt = 1.3 days) red (g - r ≈ 0.6 mag) and luminous (M1626 Å = -25.9 mag) optical transient at z = 2.9 discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). AT 2020blt shares several features in common with afterglows to long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs): (1) an optical light curve well-described by a broken power law with a break at tj = 1 d (observer frame); (2) a luminous (L0.3-10 KeV = 1046 erg s-1) X-ray counterpart; and (3) luminous (L10 GHz = 4 × 1031 erg s-1 Hz-1) radio emission. However, no GRB was detected in the 0.74 days between the last ZTF nondetection (r > 21.36 mag) and the first ZTF detection (r = 19.60 mag), with an upper limit on the isotropic-equivalent gamma-ray energy release of Eγ,iso < 7 × 1052 erg. AT 2020blt is thus the third afterglow-like transient discovered without a detected GRB counterpart (after PTF11agg and ZTF19abvizsw) and the second (after ZTF19abvizsw) with a redshift measurement. We conclude that the properties of AT 2020blt are consistent with a classical (initial Lorentz factor Γ0 ≳ 100) on-axis GRB that was missed by high-energy satellites. Furthermore, by estimating the rate of transients with light curves similar to that of AT 2020blt in ZTF high-cadence data, we agree with previous results that there is no evidence for an afterglow-like phenomenon that is significantly more common than classical GRBs, such as dirty fireballs. We conclude by discussing the status and future of fast-transient searches in wide-field high-cadence optical surveys.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist

Ben Rusholme

Chief Engineer

Dave Shupe

Senior Scientist