The metal aversion of long-duration gamma-ray bursts.
GRAHAM J.F. and FRUCHTER A.S.
Abstract (from CDS):
Recently, it has been suggested that the metallicity aversion of Long-duration Gamma Ray Bursts (LGRBs) is not intrinsic to their formation, but rather a consequence of the anti-correlation between star formation and metallicity seen in the general galaxy population. To investigate this proposal, we compare the metallicity of the hosts of LGRBs, broad-lined Type Ic (Ic-bl) supernovae (SNe), and Type II SNe to each other and to the metallicity distribution of star-forming galaxies using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to represent galaxies in the local universe and the Team Keck Redshift Survey (TKRS) for galaxies at intermediate redshifts. The differing metallicity distributions of LGRB hosts and the star formation in local galaxies forces us to conclude that the low-metallicity preference of LGRBs is not primarily driven by the anti-correlation between star formation and metallicity, but rather must be overwhelmingly due to the astrophysics of the LGRBs themselves. Three quarters of our LGRB sample are found at metallicities below 12+log(O/H) < 8.6, while less than a one-tenth of local star formation is at similarly low metallicities. However, our SN samples are statistically consistent with the metallicity distribution of the general galaxy population. Additionally, we show that the star formation rate distribution of the LGRB and SNe host populations are consistent with the star formation rate distribution of the SDSS galaxy sample. This provides further evidence that the low-metallicity distribution of LGRBs is not caused by the general properties of star-forming galaxies. Using the TKRS population of galaxies, we can exclude the possibility that the LGRB host metallicity aversion is caused by the decrease in galaxy metallicity with redshift, as this effect is clearly much smaller than the observed LGRB host metallicity bias over the redshift span of our sample. The presence of the strong metallicity difference between LGRBs and Type Ic-bl SNe largely eliminates the possibility that the observed LGRB metallicity bias is a byproduct of a difference in the initial mass functions of the galaxy populations. Rather, metallicity below half-solar must be a fundamental component of the evolutionary process that separates LGRBs from the vast majority of Type Ic-bl SNe and from the bulk of local star formation.
galaxies: abundances - galaxies: star formation - galaxies: statistics - gamma-ray burst: general - supernovae: general