"Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are cosmic, stellar explosions, that emit a typical amount of energy of 10^51 erg in gamma-rays on short time scales of 0.1 to 100 seconds. The prompt emission in gamma-rays is followed by a longer-lasting afterglow, which can be detected in all wavelength ranges from radio, optical, to X- and gamma-rays up to several days after the explosion. The large energy release and high luminosity of GRBs and their afterglows make them ideal probes for studying the early Universe and the cosmic evolution. Furthermore, GRBs are linked to the death of massive stars, and hence to star formation in the very early evolution of the Universe. GRBs light up distant galaxies undergoing a process of star formation, which would remain undetected otherwise.
The main aim of this proposal is to provide training for the applicant via cutting edge research in one of the most exciting and active fields in astronomy at a world leading institute, the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.
The proposal is based on three training and research aims. One of the major science aspects is to work and be trained on optical afterglow spectroscopy with the newly commissioned X-shooter instrument at the VLT. An X-shooter spectrum of a GRB afterglow is a powerful diagnostic of the chemical conditions in the local environment and the interstellar material of the host galaxies of GRBs. The second aspect is based on multi-wavelength studies of GRB afterglows using ground- and space-based observatories. The aim is to constrain the dust content and the total metal column density along the line of sight towards the burst. The third aspect are investigations about the population of GRB host galaxies.
The proposed project can constrain properties of low-mass, star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, which are the most common galaxies but difficult to find with different strategies; a GRB pinpoints their location."
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