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The Astrophysical Journal


The American Astronomical Society


We report optical and near-infrared follow-up observations of GRB 011121 collected predominantly at ESO telescopes in Chile. We discover a break in the afterglow light curve after 1.3 days, which implies an initial jet opening angle of about 9°. The jet origin of this break is supported by the fact that the spectral energy distribution is achromatic during the rst four days. During later phases, GRB 011121 shows signi cant excess emission above the flux predicted by a power law, which we interpret as additional light from an underlying supernova. In particular, the spectral energy distribution of the optical transient approximately 2 weeks after the burst is clearly not of power-law type, but can be presented by a black body with a temperature of ~6000 K. The deduced parameters for the decay slope as well as the spectral index favor a wind scenario, i.e. an outflow into a circum-burst environment shaped by the stellar wind of a massive GRB progenitor. Due to its low redshift of z=0.36, GRB 011121 has been the best example for the GRB-supernova connection until GRB 030329, and provides compelling evidence for a circum-burster wind region expected to exist if the progenitor was a massive star.


R. D. Scholz, C. Sterken, J. Gorosavel, I. Burud, J. Rhoads, I. Mitrofanov, M. Litvak, A. Sanin, V. Grinkov, M.I. Andersen, J. M. Castro Cerón, A. J. Castro-Tirado, A. Fruchter, J. U. Fynbo, J. Hjorth, L. Kaper, C. Kouveliotou, E. Palazzi, E. Pian, E. Rol, N. R. Tanvir, P. M. Vreeswijk, R. A. M. J. Wijers, E. van den Heuvel