Letter

Nature 444, 1050-1052 (21 December 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05374; Received 9 August 2006; Accepted 25 October 2006

An enigmatic long-lasting big gamma-ray burst not accompanied by a bright supernova

M. Della Valle1, G. Chincarini2,3, N. Panagia4,5,6, G. Tagliaferri3, D. Malesani7, V. Testa8, D. Fugazza2,3, S. Campana3, S. Covino3, V. Mangano9, L. A. Antonelli8,10, P. D'Avanzo3,11, K. Hurley12, I. F. Mirabel13, L. J. Pellizza14, S. Piranomonte8 & L. Stella8

  1. INAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, largo E. Fermi 5, I-50125 Firenze, Italy
  2. Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, piazza delle Scienze 3, I-20126 Milano, Italy
  3. INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via E. Bianchi 46, I-23807 Merate (Lc), Italy
  4. Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA
  5. Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, viale del Parco Mellini 84, I-00136, Roma, Italy
  6. Supernova Ltd, Olde Yard Village #131, Northsound Road, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
  7. International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS), via Beirut 2–4, I-34014 Trieste, Italy
  8. INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via di Frascati 33, I-00040 Monteporzio Catone (Roma), Italy
  9. INAF, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica di Palermo, via U. La Malfa 153, I-90146 Palermo, Italy
  10. ASI Science Data Center, via G. Galilei, I-00044 Frascati, Italy
  11. Dipartimento di Fisica e Matematica, Università dell'Insubria, via Valleggio 11, I-22100 Como, Italy
  12. University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720-7450, USA
  13. European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
  14. Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio (CONICET/UBA), Casilla de Correos 67 Suc. 28, (1428) Buenos Aires, Argentina

Correspondence to: M. Della Valle1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.D.V. (Email: massimo@arcetri.astro.it).

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are short, intense flashes of soft gamma-rays coming from the distant Universe. Long-duration GRBs (those lasting more than approx2 s) are believed to originate from the deaths of massive stars1, mainly on the basis of a handful of solid associations between GRBs and supernovae2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. GRB 060614, one of the closest GRBs discovered, consisted of a 5-s hard spike followed by softer, brighter emission that lasted for approx100 s (refs 8, 9). Here we report deep optical observations of GRB 060614 showing no emerging supernova with absolute visual magnitude brighter than MV = -13.7. Any supernova associated with GRB 060614 was therefore at least 100 times fainter, at optical wavelengths, than the other supernovae associated with GRBs10. This demonstrates that some long-lasting GRBs can either be associated with a very faint supernova or produced by different phenomena.

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