We present ZTF20aajnksq (AT 2020blt), a fast-fading (Δr = 2.3 mag in Δt = 1.3 days) red (g-r ≈ 0.6 mag) and luminous (M 1626 Å =-25.9 mag) optical transient at z = 2.9 discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). AT 2020blt shares several features in common with afterglows to long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs): (1) an optical light curve well-described by a broken power law with a break at t j = 1 d (observer frame); (2) a luminous (L 0.3-10 KeV = 1046 erg s-1) X-ray counterpart; and (3) luminous (L 10 GHz = 4 × 1031 erg s-1 Hz-1) radio emission. However, no GRB was detected in the 0.74 days between the last ZTF nondetection (r > 21.36 mag) and the first ZTF detection (r = 19.60 mag), with an upper limit on the isotropic-equivalent gamma-ray energy release of E γ,iso < 7 × 1052 erg. AT 2020blt is thus the third afterglow-like transient discovered without a detected GRB counterpart (after PTF11agg and ZTF19abvizsw) and the second (after ZTF19abvizsw) with a redshift measurement. We conclude that the properties of AT 2020blt are consistent with a classical (initial Lorentz factor Γ0 ⪆ 100) on-axis GRB that was missed by high-energy satellites. Furthermore, by estimating the rate of transients with light curves similar to that of AT 2020blt in ZTF high-cadence data, we agree with previous results that there is no evidence for an afterglow-like phenomenon that is significantly more common than classical GRBs, such as dirty fireballs. We conclude by discussing the status and future of fast-transient searches in wide-field high-cadence optical surveys.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.