Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are powerful probes of the early Universe, but locating and identifying very distant GRBs remain challenging. We report here the discovery of the K-band afterglow of Swift GRB 060923A, imaged within the first hour post-burst, and the faintest so far found. It was not detected in any bluer bands to deep limits, making it a candidate very high-z burst (z ≳ 11). However, our later-time optical imaging and spectroscopy reveal a faint galaxy coincident with the GRB position which, if it is the host, implies a more moderate redshift (most likely z ≲ 2.8) and therefore that dust is the likely cause of the very red-afterglow colour. This being the case, it is one of the few instances so far found of a GRB afterglow with high-dust extinction.
- Galaxies: high-redshift
- Gamma-rays: bursts