Swift observations of GRB 050904: the most distant cosmic explosion ever observed
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Swift discovered the high redshift (z=6.29) GRB050904 with the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) and began observing with its narrow field instruments 161 s after the burst onset. This gamma-ray burst is the most distant cosmic explosion ever observed. Because of its high redshift, the X-ray Telescope (XRT) and BAT simultaneous observations provide 4 orders of magnitude of spectral coverage (0.2-150 keV; 1.4-1090 keV in the source rest frame) at a very early source-frame time (22 s). GRB050904 was a
... ). GRB050904 was a long, multi-peaked, bright GRB with strong variability during its entire evolution. The light curve observed by the XRT is characterized by the presence of a long flaring activity lasting up to 1-2 hours after the burst onset in the burst rest frame, with no evidence of a smooth power-law decay following the prompt emission as seen in other GRBs. However, the BAT tail extrapolated to the XRT band joins the XRT early light curve and the overall behavior resembles that of a very long GRB prompt. The spectral energy distribution softens with time, with the photon index decreasing from -1.2 during the BAT observation to -1.9 at the end of the XRT observation. The dips of the late X-ray flares may be consistent with an underlying X-ray emission arising from the forward shock and with the properties of the optical afterglow reported by Tagliaferri et al. (2005b). We interpret the BAT and XRT data as a single continuous observation of the prompt emission from a very long GRB. The peculiarities observed in GRB050904 could be due to its origin within one of the first star-forming regions in the Universe; very low metallicities of the progenitor at these epochs may provide an explanation.