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Title: Evidence for chromatic X-ray light-curve breaks in Swift gamma-ray burst afterglows and their theoretical implications
Authors: Panaitescu, A.
Mészáros, P.
Mészáros, P.
Burrows, D.
Nousek, J.
Gehrels, N.
O'Brien, P.
Willingale, R
First Published: 11-Jul-2006
Publisher: Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Citation: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2006, 369 (4), pp. 2059-2064
Abstract: The power-law decay of the X-ray emission of gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglows 050319, 050401, 050607, 050713A, 050802 and 050922C exhibits a steepening at about 1–4 h after the burst which, surprisingly, is not accompanied by a break in the optical emission. If it is assumed that both the optical and X-ray afterglows arise from the same outflow then, in the framework of the standard forward shock model, the chromaticity of the X-ray light-curve breaks indicates that they do not arise solely from a mechanism related to the outflow dynamics (e.g. energy injection) or the angular distribution of the blast-wave kinetic energy (structured outflows or jets). The lack of a spectral evolution accompanying the X-ray light-curve break shows that these breaks do not arise from the passage of a spectral break (e.g. the cooling frequency) either. Under these circumstances, the decoupling of the X-ray and optical decays requires that the microphysical parameters for the electron and magnetic energies in the forward shock evolve in time, whether the X-ray afterglow is synchrotron or inverse-Compton emission. For a steady evolution of these parameters with the Lorentz factor of the forward shock and an X-ray light curve arising cessation of energy injection into the blast wave, the optical and X-ray properties of the above six Swift afterglows require a circumburst medium with a r−2 radial stratification, as expected for a massive star origin for long GRBs. Alternatively, the chromatic X-ray light-curve breaks may indicate that the optical and X-ray emissions arise from different outflows. Neither feature (evolution of microphysical parameters or the different origin of the optical and X-ray emissions) was clearly required by pre-Swift afterglows.
DOI Link: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.10453.x
ISSN: 0035-8711
eISSN: 1365-2966
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2006 the authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s archiving policy available on the SHERPA/RoMEO website.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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