The High Energy Explorer Satellite 2 (HETE-2) mission has been highly productive. It has observed more than 250 γ-ray bursts (GRBs) so far. It is currently localizing 25-30 GRBs per year, and has localized 43 GRBs to date. Twenty-one of these localizations have led to the detection of X-ray, optical, or radio afterglows, and as of now, 11 of the bursts with afterglows have redshift determinations. HETE-2 has also observed more than 45 bursts from soft γ-ray repeaters, and more than 700 X-ray bursts.HETE-2 has confirmed the connection between GRBs and Type Ic supernovae, a singular achievement and certainly one of the scientific highlights of the mission so far. It has provided evidence that the isotropic-equivalent energies and luminosities of GRBs may be correlated with redshift; such a correlation would imply that GRBs and their progenitors evolve strongly with redshift. Both of these results have profound implications for the nature of GRB progenitors and for the use of GRBs as a probe of cosmology and the early universe.HETE-2 has placed severe constraints on any X-ray or optical afterglow of a short GRB. It has made it possible to explore the previously unknown behavior of optical afterglows at very early times, and has opened up the era of high-resolution spectroscopy of GRB optical afterglows. It is also solving the mystery of "optically dark" GRBs, and revealing the nature of X-ray flashes.
- γ-rays: γ-ray bursts - supernovae
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science