A Reconnection Switch to Trigger gamma-Ray Burst Jet Dissipation

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Prompt gamma-ray burst (GRB) emission requires some mechanism to dissipate an ultrarelativistic jet. Internal shocks or some form of electromagnetic dissipation are candidate mechanisms. Any mechanism needs to answer basic questions, such as what is the origin of variability, what radius does dissipation occur at, and how does efficient prompt emission occur. These mechanisms also need to be consistent with how ultrarelativistic jets form and stay baryon pure despite turbulence and electromagnetic reconnection near the compact object and despite stellar entrainment within the collapsar model. We use the latest magnetohydrodynamical models of ultrarelativistic jets to explore some of these questions ... continued below

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43 pages

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McKinney, Jonathan C. & Uzdensky, Dmitri A. March 14, 2012.

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Prompt gamma-ray burst (GRB) emission requires some mechanism to dissipate an ultrarelativistic jet. Internal shocks or some form of electromagnetic dissipation are candidate mechanisms. Any mechanism needs to answer basic questions, such as what is the origin of variability, what radius does dissipation occur at, and how does efficient prompt emission occur. These mechanisms also need to be consistent with how ultrarelativistic jets form and stay baryon pure despite turbulence and electromagnetic reconnection near the compact object and despite stellar entrainment within the collapsar model. We use the latest magnetohydrodynamical models of ultrarelativistic jets to explore some of these questions in the context of electromagnetic dissipation due to the slow collisional and fast collisionless reconnection mechanisms, as often associated with Sweet-Parker and Petschek reconnection, respectively. For a highly magnetized ultrarelativistic jet and typical collapsar parameters, we find that significant electromagnetic dissipation may be avoided until it proceeds catastrophically near the jet photosphere at large radii (r {approx} 10{sup 13}-10{sup 14}cm), by which the jet obtains a high Lorentz factor ({gamma} {approx} 100-1000), has a luminosity of L{sub j} {approx} 10{sup 50}-10{sup 51} erg s{sup -1}, has observer variability timescales of order 1s (ranging from 0.001-10s), achieves {gamma}{theta}{sub j} {approx} 10-20 (for opening half-angle {theta}{sub j}) and so is able to produce jet breaks, and has comparable energy available for both prompt and afterglow emission. A range of model parameters are investigated and simplified scaling laws are derived. This reconnection switch mechanism allows for highly efficient conversion of electromagnetic energy into prompt emission and associates the observed prompt GRB pulse temporal structure with dissipation timescales of some number of reconnecting current sheets embedded in the jet. We hope this work helps motivate the development of self-consistent radiative compressible relativistic reconnection models.

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43 pages

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  • Journal Name: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society; Journal Volume: 419; Journal Issue: 1

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  • Report No.: SLAC-PUB-14886
  • Grant Number: AC02-76SF00515
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19721.x | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1036488
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc830927

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  • March 14, 2012

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 1:42 p.m.

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McKinney, Jonathan C. & Uzdensky, Dmitri A. A Reconnection Switch to Trigger gamma-Ray Burst Jet Dissipation, article, March 14, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc830927/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.