HST/STIS Images of GRB 970508

On this page we present the Hubble Space Telescope images of GRB 970508. The Gamma-Ray Burst of May 8, 1997 was first detected by the Beppo-Sax satellite. Since then, further observations on Beppo-Sax and from the ground have lead to the discovery of an optical counterpart. Optical spectra taken at the W.M. Keck Observatory revealed both absorption and emission lines at a redshift of z=0.835, implying that the burster lies in a star forming galaxy. An image of this object, taken approximately one month after outburst using the new STIS camera on board HST, failed to reveal the host galaxy -- it was overwhelmed by the light of the GRB (a section of this image is in the box at the top of this page on the left. Click on the image for an enlarged view). A second observation, taken in early August of 1998 now reveals the host galaxy (see second image above).

The host galaxy is approximately one-half arcsecond across on the sky, and about 25th magnitude in the visual. The host is therefore a dwarf galaxy -- it is only a few kiloparsecs in diameter (about one-tenth the diameter of the Milky Way) and has an intrinsic luminosity comparable to the Large Magellanic Cloud.

The results of our first observations have been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters of 10 January, 1998. Unfortunately, the article may only be accessed by subscribers to the Astrophysical Journal. However, a similar, though more speculative and shorter version, was presented at the Fifth Huntsville Symposium and this can be retrieved by anyone.

A short telegram on the second set of STIS observations is available. This was sent out both as a GCN (Gamma-Ray Burst Coordinate Network) circular and as an Astonomer's Telegram. A large catalog of gamma-ray bursts can be found on the BATSE pages.

Individuals who have contributed to this work are listed below: