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Published in: Astrophysical Journal, Volume 778, 2013


We present a broadband study of gamma-ray burst (GRB) 091024A within the context of other ultra-long-duration GRBs. An unusually long burst detected by Konus–Wind (KW), Swift, and Fermi, GRB 091024A has prompt emission episodes covering ∼1300 s, accompanied by bright and highly structured optical emission captured by various rapid-response facilities, including the 2 m autonomous robotic Faulkes North and Liverpool Telescopes, KAIT, S-LOTIS, and the Sonoita Research Observatory.We also observed the burst with 8 and 10mclass telescopes and determine the redshift to be z = 1.0924 ± 0.0004. We find no correlation between the optical and γ -ray peaks and interpret the optical light curve as being of external origin, caused by the reverse and forward shock of a highly magnetized jet (RB ≈ 100–200). Low-level emission is detected throughout the near-background quiescent period between the first two emission episodes of the KW data, suggesting continued central-engine activity; we discuss the implications of this ongoing emission and its impact on the afterglow evolution and predictions.We summarize the varied sample of historical GRBs with exceptionally long durations in gamma-rays (1000 s) and discuss thelikelihood of these events being from a separate population; we suggest ultra-long GRBs represent the tail of the duration distribution of the long GRB population.