An Imaging and Spectroscopic Study of Four Strong MgII Absorbers Revealed By GRB060418

Pollack, L. K.
Chen, H. -W.
Prochaska, J. X.
Bloom, J. S.
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We present results from an imaging and spectroscopic study of four strong MgII absorbers of W(2796) >~ 1 Ang revealed by the afterglow of GRB060418 at z_GRB=1.491. These absorbers, at z=0.603,0.656,1.107 and z_GRB, exhibit large ion abundances that suggest neutral gas column densities characteristic of damped Lya systems. The imaging data include optical images obtained using LRIS on the Keck I telescope and using ACS on board HST, and near-infrared H-band images obtained using PANIC on the Magellan Baade Telescope and K'-band images obtained using NIRC2 with LGSAO on the Keck II telescope. These images reveal six distinct objects at <~ 3.5'' of the afterglow's position, two of which exhibit well-resolved mature disk morphology, one shows red colors, and three are blue compact sources. Follow-up spectroscopic observations using LRIS confirm that one of the disk galaxies coincides with the MgII absorber at z=0.656. The observed broad-band spectral energy distributions of the second disk galaxy and the red source indicate that they are associated with the absorbers at z=0.603 and z=1.107, respectively. These results show that strong MgII absorbers identified in GRB afterglow spectra are associated with typical galaxies of luminosity ~ (0.1-1) L* at impact parameter <~ 10 h^-1 kpc. The close angular separation would preclude easy detections toward a bright quasar. Finally, we associate the remaining three blue compact sources with the GRB host galaxy, noting that they are likely star-forming knots located at projected distances 2-12 h^-1 kpc from the afterglow. At the afterglow's position, we derive a 2-sigma upper limit to the underlying SFR intensity of 0.0074 M_sun yr^-1 kpc^-2.
Comment: 12 ApJ style pages, 5 figures; ApJ in press
Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics