Probing intergalactic neutral hydrogen by the Lyman alpha red damping wing of gamma-ray burst 130606A afterglow spectrum at ź =́ 5.913

Tomonori Totani, Kentaro Aoki, Takashi Hattori, George Kosugi, Yuu Niino, Tetsuya Hashimoto, Nobuyuki Kawai, Kouji Ohta, Takanori Sakamoto, Toru Yamada

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41 Citations (Scopus)


The unprecedentedly bright optical afterglow of GRB 130606A located by Swift at a redshift close to the reionization era (ź =́ 5.913) provides a new opportunity to probe the ionization status of the intergalactic medium (IGM). Here we present an analysis of the red Lyα damping wing of the afterglow spectrum taken by Subaru/FOCAS during 10.4-13.2 hr after the burst. We find that the minimal model including only the baseline power-law and H i absorption in the host galaxy does not give a good fit, leaving residuals showing concave curvature in 8400-8900 Å with an amplitude of about 0.6% of the flux. Such a curvature in the short wavelength range cannot be explained either by extinction at the host with standard extinction curves, intrinsic curvature of afterglow spectra, or by the known systematic uncertainties in the observed spectrum. The red damping wing by intervening H i gas outside the host can reduce the residual by about 3 σ statistical significance. We find that a damped Lyα system is not favored as the origin of this intervening H i absorption, from the observed Lyβ and metal absorption features. Therefore absorption by diffuse IGM remains as a plausible explanation. A fit by a simple uniform IGM model requires an H i neutral fraction of fH́ í ∼ 0.1-0.5 depending on the distance to the GRB host, implying high fH́ i IGM associated with the observed dark Gunn-Peterson (GP) troughs. This gives new evidence that the reionization is not yet complete at ź =́ 6.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Japan
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun 1


  • dark ages reionization first stars
  • gamma-ray burst: individual (GRB 130606A)
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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