THE BURST CLUSTER: DARK MATTER IN A CLUSTER MERGER ASSOCIATED WITH THE SHORT GAMMA-RAY BURST, GRB 050509B
We have identified a merging galaxy cluster with evidence of two distinct sub-clusters. The X-ray and optical data suggest that the subclusters are moving away from each other after closest approach. This cluster merger was discovered from observations of the well localized short-duration gamma-ray burst (GRB), GRB 050509B. The Swift/Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) source position is coincident with a cluster of galaxies ZwCl 1234.0+02916. The subsequent Swift/X-Ray Telescope (XRT) localization of
... T) localization of the X-ray afterglow found the GRB coincident with 2MASX J12361286+2858580, a giant red elliptical galaxy in the cluster. Deep multi-epoch optical images were obtained to constrain the evolution of the GRB afterglow, including a 27480s exposure in the F814W band with Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), among the deepest imaging ever obtained towards a known galaxy cluster in a single passband. We perform a weak gravitational lensing analysis, including mapping the total mass distribution of the merger system. Combined with Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift/XRT observations, we investigate the dynamical state of the merger to probe the nature of the dark matter component. Our weak gravitational lensing measurements reveal a separation of the X-ray centroid of the western subcluster from the center of the mass and galaxy light distributions, similar to that of the famous "Bullet cluster". We conclude that the "Burst cluster" is another candidate merger system for determining the nature of dark matter and for studying the environment of short GRBs. We discuss connections between the cluster dynamical state and/or matter composition and compact object mergers, the leading model for the origin of short GRBs. Finally, we present results from a weak lensing survey based on archival Very Large Telescope (VLT) images in the areas of 5 other short GRBs.