Date: 14 Oct 2003

Hunting Gamma-Ray Bursts in the Lyman-Forest; GRB 000131 at z = 4.50

Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla and Paranal, Chile (ESO Programmes 64.H-0573, 64.H-0580, 64.O-0187, and 64.H-0313)

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We report the discovery and follow-up observations of the afterglow of GRB 000131. The optical identification was made with the VLT, 84 hours after the burst following a BATSE detection and an Inter Planetary Network localization. Broadband and spectroscopic observations of the spectralenergy distribution reveals a sharp break at optical wavelengths which is interpreted as a Ly \(\alpha\) absorption edge at 6700 Å. This places GRB 000131 at a redshift of \(4.500 \pm 0.015\) .