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The Flat Decay Phase in the Early X-Ray Afterglows of Swift GRBs

Description: Many Swift GRBs show an early phase of shallow decay in their X-ray afterglows, lasting from t {approx} 10{sup 2.5} s to {approx} 10{sup 4} s after the GRB, where the flux decays as {approx} t{sup -0.2} - t{sup -0.8}. This is perhaps the most mysterious of the new features discovered by Swift in the early X-ray afterglow, since it is still not clear what causes it. I discuss different possible explanations for this surprising new discovery, as well as their potential implications for the gamma-ray efficiency, the afterglow kinetic energy, and perhaps even for the physics of collisionless relativistic shocks.
Date: March 27, 2007
Creator: Granot, Jonathan
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Structure and Dynamics of GRB Jets

Description: There are several lines of evidence which suggest that the relativistic outflows in gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are collimated into narrow jets. The jet structure has important implications for the true energy release and the event rate of GRBs, and can constrain the mechanism responsible for the acceleration and collimation of the jet. Nevertheless, the jet structure and its dynamics as it sweeps up the external medium and decelerates, are not well understood. In this review I discuss our current understanding of GRB jets, stressing their structure and dynamics.
Date: October 25, 2006
Creator: Granot, Jonathan
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Distribution of Gamma-ray Burst Ejecta Energy with Lorentz Factor

Description: The early X-ray afterglow for a significant number of gamma-ray bursts detected by the Swift satellite is observed to have a phase of very slow flux decline with time (F{sub {nu}} {proportional_to} t{sup -{alpha}} with 0.2 {approx}< {alpha} {approx}< 0.8) for 10{sup 2.5} s{approx}< t {approx}< 10{sup 4} s, while the subsequent decline is the usual 1 {approx}< {alpha}{sub 3} {approx}< 1.5 behavior, that was seen in the pre-Swift era. We show that this behavior is a natural consequence of a small spread in the Lorentz factor of the ejecta, by a factor of {approx} 2-4, where the slower ejecta gradually catch-up with the shocked external medium, thus increasing the energy of forward shock and delaying its deceleration. The end of the ''shallow'' flux decay stage marks the beginning of the Blandford-McKee self similar external shock evolution. This suggests that most of the energy in the relativistic outflow is in material with a Lorentz factor of {approx} 30-50.
Date: October 7, 2005
Creator: Granot, Jonathan & Kumar, Pawan
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Case for Anisotropic Afterglow Efficiency Within Gamma-Ray Burst Jets

Description: Early X-ray afterglows recently detected by Swift frequently show a phase of very shallow flux decay lasting from a few hundred seconds up to {approx} 10{sup 4} s, followed by a steeper, more familiar decay. We suggest that the flat early part of the light curve may be a combination of the decaying tail of the prompt emission and the delayed onset of the afterglow emission observed from viewing angles slightly outside the edge of the jet, as predicted previously. This would imply that a significant fraction of viewers have a very small external shock energy along their line of sight and a very high {gamma}-ray to kinetic energy ratio. The early flat phase in the afterglow light curve implies, according to this or other interpretations, a very large {gamma}-ray efficiency, typically {approx}> 90%, which is very difficult to produce by internal shocks.
Date: October 5, 2005
Creator: Eichler, David; Negev, /Ben Gurion U. of; Granot, Jonathan & /KIPAC, Menlo Park
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Opacity Build-up in Impulsive Relativistic Sources

Description: Opacity effects in relativistic sources of high-energy gamma-rays, such as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) or Blazars, can probe the Lorentz factor of the outflow as well as the distance of the emission site from the source, and thus help constrain the composition of the outflow (protons, pairs, magnetic field) and the emission mechanism. Most previous works consider the opacity in steady state. Here we study the effects of the time dependence of the opacity to pair production ({gamma}{gamma} {yields} e{sup +}e{sup -}) in an impulsive relativistic source, which may be relevant for the prompt gamma-ray emission in GRBs or flares in Blazars. We present a simple, yet rich, semi-analytic model for the time and energy dependence of the optical depth, {tau}{gamma}{gamma}, in which a thin spherical shell expands ultra-relativistically and emits isotropically in its own rest frame over a finite range of radii, R{sub 0} {le} R {le} R{sub 0}+{Delta}R. This is particularly relevant for GRB internal shocks. We find that in an impulsive source ({Delta}R {approx}< R{sub 0}), while the instantaneous spectrum (which is typically hard to measure due to poor photon statistics) has an exponential cutoff above the photon energy {var_epsilon}1(T) where t{gamma}{gamma}({var_epsilon}1) = 1, the time integrated spectrum (which is easier to measure) has a power-law high-energy tail above the photon energy {var_epsilon}1* {approx} {var_epsilon}1({Delta}T) where {Delta}T is the duration of the emission episode. Furthermore, photons with energies {var_epsilon} > {var_epsilon}1* are expected to arrive mainly near the onset of the spike in the light curve or flare, which corresponds to the short emission episode. This arises since in such impulsive sources it takes time to build-up the (target) photon field, and thus the optical depth {tau}{gamma}{gamma}({var_epsilon}) initially increases with time and {var_epsilon}1(T) correspondingly decreases with time, so that photons of energy {var_epsilon} > {var_epsilon}1* are able to ...
Date: September 28, 2007
Creator: Granot, Jonathan; Cohen-Tanugi, Johann & Silva, Eduardo do Couto e
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Smooth Light Curves from a Bumpy Ride: Relativistic Blast Wave Encounters a Density Jump

Description: Some gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglow light curves show significant variability, which often includes episodes of rebrightening. Such temporal variability had been attributed in several cases to large fluctuations in the external density, or density ''bumps''. Here we carefully examine the effect of a sharp increase in the external density on the afterglow light curve by considering, for the first time, a full treatment of both the hydrodynamic evolution and the radiation in this scenario. To this end we develop a semi-analytic model for the light curve and carry out several elaborate numerical simulations using a one dimensional hydrodynamic code together with a synchrotron radiation code. Two spherically symmetric cases are explored in detail--a density jump in a uniform external medium, and a wind termination shock. The effect of density clumps is also constrained. Contrary to previous works, we find that even a very sharp (modeled as a step function) and large (by a factor of a >> 1) increase in the external density does not produce sharp features in the light curve, and cannot account for significant temporal variability in GRB afterglows. For a wind termination shock, the light curve smoothly transitions between the asymptotic power laws over about one decade in time, and there is no rebrightening in the optical or X-rays that could serve as a clear observational signature. For a sharp jump in a uniform density profile we find that the maximal deviation {Delta}{alpha}{sub max} of the temporal decay index {alpha} from its asymptotic value (at early and late times), is bounded (e.g, {Delta}{alpha}{sub max} < 0.4 for {alpha} = 10); {Delta}{alpha}{sub max} slowly increases with {alpha}, converging to {Delta}{alpha}{sub max} {approx} 1 at very large {alpha} values. Therefore, no optical rebrightening is expected in this case as well. In the X-rays, while the asymptotic flux is ...
Date: June 6, 2006
Creator: Nakar, Ehud; /Caltech; Granot, Jonathan & /KIPAC, Menlo Park
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Implications of the Early X-Ray Afterglow Light Curves of Swift GRBs

Description: According to current models, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are produced when the energy carried by a relativistic outflow is dissipated and converted into radiation. The efficiency of this process, {epsilon}{sub {gamma}}, is one of the critical factors in any GRB model. The X-ray afterglow light curves of Swift GRBs show an early stage of flattish decay. This has been interpreted as reflecting energy injection. When combined with previous estimates, which have concluded that the kinetic energy of the late ({approx}> 10 hr) afterglow is comparable to the energy emitted in {gamma}-rays, this interpretation implies very high values of {epsilon}{sub {gamma}}, corresponding to {approx}> 90% of the initial energy being converted into {gamma}-rays. Such a high efficiency is hard to reconcile with most models, including in particular the popular internal-shocks model. We re-analyze the derivation of the kinetic energy from the afterglow X-ray flux and re-examine the resulting estimates of the efficiency. We confirm that, if the flattish decay arises from energy injection and the pre-Swift broad-band estimates of the kinetic energy are correct, then {epsilon}{sub {gamma}} {approx}> 0.9. We discuss various issues related to this result, including an alternative interpretation of the light curve in terms of a two-component outflow model, which we apply to the X-ray observations of GRB 050315. We point out, however, that another interpretation of the flattish decay--a variable X-ray afterglow efficiency (e.g., due to a time dependence of afterglow shock microphysical parameters)--is possible. We also show that direct estimates of the kinetic energy from the late X-ray afterglow flux are sensitive to the assumed values of the shock microphysical parameters and suggest that broad-band afterglow fits might have underestimated the kinetic energy (e.g., by overestimating the fraction of electrons that are accelerated to relativistic energies). Either one of these possibilities implies a lower {gamma}-ray efficiency, and ...
Date: January 17, 2006
Creator: Granot, Jonathan; /KIPAC, Menlo Park; Konigl, Arieh; /Chicago U., Astron. Astrophys. Ctr. /Chicago U., EFI; Piran, Tsvi & U., /Hebrew
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

A Compact Binary Merger Model for the Short, Hard GRB 050509b

Description: The first X-ray afterglow for a short ({approx}30ms), hard {gamma}-ray burst was detected by Swift on 9 May 2005 (GRB 050509b). No optical or radio counterpart was identified in follow-up observations. The tentative association of the GRB with a nearby giant elliptical galaxy at redshift z = 0.2248 would imply the progenitor had traveled several tens of kpc from its point of origin, in agreement with expectations linking these events to the final merger of compact binaries driven by gravitational wave emission. We model the dynamical merger of such a system and the time-dependent evolution of the accretion tori thus created. The resulting energetics, variability, and expected durations are consistent with GRB 050509b originating from the tidal disruption of a neutron star by a stellar mass black hole, or of the merger of two neutron stars followed by prompt gravitational collapse of the massive remnant. We discuss how the available {gamma}-ray and X-ray data provides a probe for the nature of the relativistic ejecta and the surrounding medium.
Date: June 15, 2005
Creator: Lee, William H.; /Princeton, Inst. Advanced Study /UNAM, Inst. Astron.; Ramirez-Ruiz, Enrico; /Princeton, Inst. Advanced Study; Granot, Jonathan & /Princeton, Inst. Advanced Study /KIPAC, Menlo Park
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department