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


Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are short, intense flashes of soft γ-rays coming from the distant Universe. Long-duration GRBs (those lasting more than 2 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 100 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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Figure 1: Spectrum of the host galaxy of GRB 060614.
Figure 2: R-band light curve of the GRB 060614 afterglow.

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This work is based on data collected at the Very Large Telescope operated by the European Southern Observatory. We acknowledge support from the observing staff. This research is supported in Italy by ASI, MIUR-PRIN and INAF-PRIN grants.

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Correspondence to M. Della Valle.

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This file contains Supplementary Figure with legend which shows estimate of the reddening correction and Supplementary Table which shows log of the observations.

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Valle, M., Chincarini, G., Panagia, N. et al. An enigmatic long-lasting γ-ray burst not accompanied by a bright supernova. Nature 444, 1050–1052 (2006).

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