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Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) afterglows close to their peak intensity are among the brightest X-ray sources in the sky. Despite their fast power-law like decay, when fluxes are integrated from minutes up to hours after the GRB event, the corresponding number counts (logN-logF relation) far exceeds that of any other high redshift (z>0.5) source, the flux of which is integrated over the same time interval. We discuss how to use X-ray afterglows of GRBs as distant beacons to probe the warm (105 K7 K) intergalactic matter in filaments and outskirts of clusters of galaxies by means of absorption features, the "X-ray forest''. According to current cosmological scenarios this matter may comprise 30-40% of the baryons in the Universe at z<1. Present-generation X-ray spectrometers such as those on Chandra and XMM-Newton can detect it along most GRBs' lines of sight, provided afterglows are observed fast enough (within hours) after the burst.
Published: 01 November 2000
8-Dec-2021 05:53 UT

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https://sci.esa.int/p/28oG668