A luminosity distribution for kilonovae based on short gamma-ray burst afterglows

Stefano Ascenzi, Michael W. Coughlin, Tim Dietrich, Ryan J. Foley, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Silvia Piranomonte, Brenna Mockler, Ariadna Murguia-Berthier, Chris L. Fryer, Nicole M. Lloyd-Ronning, Stephan Rosswog

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The combined detection of a gravitational-wave signal, kilonova, and short gamma-ray burst (sGRB) from GW170817 marked a scientific breakthrough in the field of multimessenger astronomy. But even before GW170817, there have been a number of sGRBs with possible associated kilonova detections. In this work, we re-examine these 'historical' sGRB afterglows with a combination of state-of-the-art afterglow and kilonova models. This allows us to include optical/near-infrared synchrotron emission produced by the sGRB as well as ultraviolet/optical/near-infrared emission powered by the radioactive decay of r-process elements (i.e. the kilonova). Fitting the light curves, we derive the velocity and the mass distribution as well as the composition of the ejected material. The posteriors on kilonova parameters obtained from the fit were turned into distributions for the peak magnitude of the kilonova emission in different bands and the time at which this peak occurs. From the sGRB with an associated kilonova, we found that the peak magnitude in H bands falls in the range [-16.2,-13.1] $95 $ of confidence) and occurs within $0.8\!-\!3.6\,\rm d$ after the sGRB prompt emission. In g band instead we obtain a peak magnitude in range [-16.8,-12.3] occurring within the first 18 h after the sGRB prompt. From the luminosity distributions of GW170817/AT2017gfo, kilonova candidates GRB130603B, GRB050709, and GRB060614 (with the possible inclusion of GRB150101B, GRB050724A, GRB061201, GRB080905A, GRB150424A, and GRB160821B) and the upper limits from all the other sGRBs not associated with any kilonova detection we obtain for the first time a kilonova luminosity distribution in different bands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-690
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • gamma-ray burst: general
  • gravitational waves
  • nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances

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    Ascenzi, S., Coughlin, M. W., Dietrich, T., Foley, R. J., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Piranomonte, S., Mockler, B., Murguia-Berthier, A., Fryer, C. L., Lloyd-Ronning, N. M., & Rosswog, S. (2019). A luminosity distribution for kilonovae based on short gamma-ray burst afterglows. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 486(1), 672-690. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz891