The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Host Galaxy Legacy Survey

One of the most exciting broader applications of the study of gamma-ray bursts is in better understanding the star-formation history of the Universe, especially at the highest redshifts - long GRBs are produced by massive stars, so their host and redshift distribution should reflect the cosmic SFR density and galaxy evolution. However, properly applying this technique requires a thorough understanding of how (and if) the GRB rate is affected by other environmental factors, in particular metallicity. I will describe the largest project yet to understand the connection between GRBs and galaxies, the Swift Host Galaxy Legacy Survey (SHOALS). We have selected a sample of 119 (soon to be expanded to ~300) targets and targeted them with intensive observational follow-up with deep Spitzer, Keck, GTC, Gemini, VLT, Magellan, and VLA observations. I will present early results from this project on the GRB rate history and host mass distribution, and discuss implications for the nature of the GRB progenitor and the ability of GRBs to serve as tools for measuring and studying cosmic star-formation in the distant universe.

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