Hubble space telescope STIS observations of GRB 000301C: CCD imaging and near-ultraviolet MAMA spectroscopy

Alain Smette, Andrew S. Fruchter, Theodore R. Gull, Kailash C. Sahu, Larry Petro, Henry Ferguson, James Rhoads, Don J. Lindler, Rachel Gibbons, David W. Hogg, Chryssa Kouveliotou, Mario Livio, Duccio Macchetto, Mark R. Metzger, Holger Pedersen, Elena Pian, Stephen E. Thorsett, Ralph A.M.J. Wijers, Johan P.U. Fynbo, Javier GorosabelJens Hjorth, Brian L. Jensen, Alan Levine, Donald A. Smith, Tom Cline, Kevin Hurley, Jack Trombka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We present Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph observations of the optical transient (OT) counter-part of the γ-ray burster GRB 000301C obtained 5 days after the burst, on 2000 March 6. CCD clearaperture imaging reveals a R ≃ 21.50 ± 0.15 source with no apparent host galaxy. An 8000 s, 1150 Å < λ < 3300 Å near-ultraviolet MAMA prism spectrum shows a flat or slightly rising continuum (in fλ) between 2800 and 3300 Å, with a mean flux of (8.7+0.8-1.6 ± 2.6) × 10-18 ergs s-1 cm-2 Å-1, and a sharp break centered at 2797 ± 25 Å. We interpret this as the H I Lyman break at z = 2.067 ± 0.025, indicating the presence of a cloud with an H I column density log NH I(cm2) > 18 on the line of sight to the OT. This measured redshift is conservatively a lower limit to the GRB redshift. However, as all other GRBs that have deep Hubble Space Telescope images appear to lie on the stellar field of a host galaxy, and as the large H I column density measured here and in later ground-based observations is unlikely on a random line of sight, we believe we are probably seeing absorption from H I in the host galaxy. In any case, this represents the largest direct redshift determination of a γ-ray burster to date. Our data are compatible with an OT spectrum represented by a power law with an intrinsic index α = 1.2 (fv ∝ v) and no extinction in the host galaxy, or with α = 0.5 and extinction by SMC-like dust in the OT rest frame with Av = 0.15. The large NH I and the lack of a detected host are similar to the situation for damped Lyα absorbers at z > 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Gamma rays: bursts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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