We report the clear detection of the 2175 Å dust absorption feature in the optical afterglow spectrum of the gamma-ray burst (GRB) GRB 070802 at a redshift of z = 2.45. This is the highest redshift for a detected 2175 Å dust bump to date, and it is the first clear detection of the 2175 Å bump in a GRB host galaxy, while several tens of optical afterglow spectra without the bump have been recorded in the past decade. The derived extinction curve gives AV = 0.8-1.5 depending on the assumed intrinsic slope. Of the three local extinction laws, a Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) type extinction gives the best fit to the extinction curve of the host of GRB 070802. Besides the 2175 Å bump we find that the spectrum of GRB 070802 is characterized by unusually strong low-ionization metal lines and possibly a high metallicity for a GRB sightline ([Si/H] = –0.46 ± 0.38, [Zn/H] = –0.50 ± 0.68). In particular, the spectrum of GRB 070802 is unique for a GRB spectrum in that it shows clear C I absorption features, leading us to propose a correlation between the presence of the bump and C I. The gas-to-dust ratio for the host galaxy is found to be significantly lower than that of other GRB hosts with N(H I)/AV = (2.4 ± 1.0) × 1021 cm–2 mag–1, which lies between typical Milky Way and LMC values. Our results are in agreement with the tentative conclusion reached by Gordon et al. that the shape of the extinction curve, in particular the presence of the bump, is affected by the UV flux density in the environment of the dust. Based on observations collected under progs. ID 079.D–0429(B) and 177.D–0591(P,Q), using the FORS2 instrument installed at the Cassegrain focus of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), Unit 1 - Antu, operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on Cerro Paranal, Chile.
Astrophysical Journal, 2009, Vol 697, Issue 2, p. 1725-1740