Monday, July 1, 2013

1306.6888 (M. Trenti et al.)

Gamma Ray Burst and star formation rates: The physical origin for the redshift evolution of their ratio    [PDF]

M. Trenti, R. Perna, S. Tacchella
Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) and galaxies at high redshift represent complementary probes of the star formation history of the Universe. In fact, both the GRB rate and the galaxy luminosity density are connected to the underlying star formation. Here, we combine a star formation model for the evolution of the galaxy luminosity function from z=0 to z=10 with a metallicity-dependent efficiency for GRB formation to simultaneously predict the comoving GRB rate. Our model sheds light on the physical origin of the empirical relation often assumed between GRB rate and luminosity density-derived star formation rate: Rgrb(z) = \epsilon(z)*SFR_{obs}(z), with \epsilon(z) (1+z)^{1.2}. At z<4, \epsilon(z) is dominated by the effects of metallicity evolution in the GRB efficiency. Our best-fitting model only requires a moderate preference for low-metallicity, that is a GRB rate per unit stellar mass about four times higher for log(Z/Zsun)<-3 compared to log(Z/Zsun)>0. Models with total suppression of GRB formation at log(Z/Zsun)>0 are disfavored. At z>4, most of the star formation happens in low-metallicity hosts with nearly saturated efficiency of GRB production per unit stellar mass. However at the same epoch, galaxy surveys miss an increasing fraction of the predicted luminosity density because of flux limits, driving an accelerated evolution of \epsilon(z) compared to the empirical power-law fit from lower z. Our findings are consistent with the non-detections of GRB hosts in ultradeep imaging at z>5, and point toward current galaxy surveys at z>8 only observing the top 15-20 % of the total luminosity density.
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