The ROTSE-IIIc telescope at the HESS site, Namibia, obtained the earliest detection of optical emission from a gamma-ray burst (GRB), beginning only 21.8 s from the onset of Swift GRB 050801. The optical light curve does not fade or brighten significantly over the first ∼250 s, after which there is an achromatic break and the light curve declines in typical power-law fashion. The Swift XRT also obtained early observations starting at 69 s after the burst onset. The X-ray light curve shows the same features as the optical light curve. These correlated variations in the early optical and X-ray emission imply a common origin in space and time. This behavior is difficult to reconcile with the standard models of early afterglow emission.
- Gamma rays: bursts