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A very energetic supernova associated with the γ-ray burst of 29 March 2003


Over the past five years evidence has mounted that long-duration (>2 s) γ-ray bursts (GRBs)—the most luminous of all astronomical explosions—signal the collapse of massive stars in our Universe. This evidence was originally based on the probable association of one unusual GRB with a supernova1, but now includes the association of GRBs with regions of massive star formation in distant galaxies2,3, the appearance of supernova-like ‘bumps’ in the optical afterglow light curves of several bursts4,5,6 and lines of freshly synthesized elements in the spectra of a few X-ray afterglows7. These observations support, but do not yet conclusively demonstrate, the idea that long-duration GRBs are associated with the deaths of massive stars, presumably arising from core collapse. Here we report evidence that a very energetic supernova (a hypernova) was temporally and spatially coincident with a GRB at redshift z = 0.1685. The timing of the supernova indicates that it exploded within a few days of the GRB, strongly suggesting that core-collapse events can give rise to GRBs, thereby favouring the ‘collapsar’ model8,9.

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Figure 1: Spectral evolution of the combined optical flux density, fλ, of the afterglow of GRB030329, the associated SN2003dh, and its host galaxy.
Figure 2: Comparison of the spectral evolution of SN2003dh and SN1998bw.
Figure 3: Light curves and expansion velocities of SN2003dh and SN1998bw.


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We thank F. Patat for discussions. This paper is based on observations collected by the Gamma-Ray Burst Collaboration at ESO (GRACE) at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile. We thank the ESO staff at the Paranal Observatory, in particular N. Ageorges, P. Gandhi, S. Hubrig, R. Johnson, C. Ledoux, K. O'Brien, R. Scarpa, T. Szeifert and L. Vanzi, for their help in securing the service mode data reported here. We acknowledge benefits from collaboration within the EU FP5 Research Training Network “Gamma-Ray Bursts: An Enigma and a Tool”. This work was also supported by the Danish Natural Science Research Council (SNF). J.P.U.F. and K.P. acknowledge support from the Carlsberg Foundation.

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Correspondence to Jens Hjorth.

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Hjorth, J., Sollerman, J., Møller, P. et al. A very energetic supernova associated with the γ-ray burst of 29 March 2003. Nature 423, 847–850 (2003).

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