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On the generation of high energy photons detected by the Fermi Satellite from gamma-ray bursts  [PDF]
Pawan Kumar,Rodolfo Barniol Duran
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2009.00766.x
Abstract: Observations of gamma-ray bursts by the Fermi satellite, capable of detecting photons in a very broad energy band: 8keV to >300GeV, have opened a new window for the study of these enigmatic explosions. It is widely assumed that photons of energy larger than 100 MeV are produced by the same source that generated lower energy photons -- at least whenever the shape of the spectrum is a Band function. We report here a surprising discovery -- the Fermi data for a bright burst, GRB 080916C, unambiguously shows that the high energy photons (>= 100MeV) were generated in the external shock via the synchrotron process, and the lower energy photons had a distinctly different source. The magnetic field in the region where high energy photons were produced (and also the late time afterglow emission region) is found to be consistent with shock compressed magnetic field of the circum-stellar medium. This result sheds light on the important question of the origin of magnetic fields required for gamma-ray burst afterglows. The external shock model for high energy radiation makes a firm prediction that can be tested with existing and future observations.
Very High Lorentz Factor Fireballs and Gamma-Ray Burst Spectra  [PDF]
Kunihito Ioka
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1143/PTP.124.667
Abstract: Collisionless entrainment of the surrounding matter imports the relativistic baryon component in the Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) fireball frame. We show that half the fireball energy can be transferred from radiation to the comoving hot motions of baryons under the photosphere. The yet baryon-poor fireball can reexpand to a very high Lorentz factor (VHLF) \Gamma ~ 10^3-10^6 by its own relativistic collisionless pressure beyond the photosphere (so-called collisionless bulk acceleration), leading to internal and external shocks. A simple synchrotron emission from the VHLF internal shocks produces (i) the extra power-law spectral component with variability observed in the Fermi GeV bursts, up to the TeV range for the future Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), (ii) the GeV onset delay with a weak luminosity dependence t_{delay} ~ L^{-1/5}, and (iii) the spectral break of GRB 090926 by the synchrotron cooling break or the maximum synchrotron cutoff limited by the dynamical time, not by the e+- creation cutoff. The relativistic baryon component could also heat the photospheric thermal photons into the main GRB Band spectrum via pp, p\gamma (Bethe-Heitler and photomeson), and Coulomb thermalization processes. In this hot photosphere-internal-external shock model, we can predict the anticorrelation of ~TeV neutrinos and GeV gamma-rays, which may be detectable using IceCube. The spectral peak and luminosity (Yonetoku) relation is also reproduced if the progenitor stars are nearly identical. We also discuss the steep/shallow decay of early X-ray afterglows and short GRBs.
"Self-absorbed" GeV light-curves of Gamma-Ray Burst afterglows  [PDF]
A. Panaitescu,W. T. Vestrand,P. Wozniak
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/788/1/70
Abstract: We investigate the effect that the absorption of high-energy (above 100 MeV) photons produced in GRB afterglow shocks has on the light-curves and spectra of Fermi-LAT afterglows. Afterglows produced by the interaction of a relativistic outflow with a wind-like medium peak when the blast-wave deceleration sets in, and the afterglow spectrum could be hardening before that peak, as the optical thickness to pair-formation is decreasing. In contrast, in afterglows produced in the interaction with a homogeneous medium, the optical thickness to pair-formation should increase and yield a light-curve peak when it reaches unity, followed by a fast light-curve decay, accompanied by a spectral softening. If energy is injected in the blast-wave, then the accelerated increase of the optical thickness yields a convex afterglow light-curve. Other features, such as a double-peak light-curve or a broad hump, can arise from the evolution of the optical thickness to photon-photon absorption. Fast decays and convex light-curves are seen in a few LAT afterglows, but the expected spectral softening is rarely seen in (and difficult to measure with) LAT observations. Furthermore, for the effects of photon-photon attenuation to shape the high-energy afterglow light-curve without attenuating it too much, the ejecta initial Lorentz factor must be in a relatively narrow range (50-200), which reduces the chance of observing those effects.
Very high energy follow-up observations of GRBs detected by Fermi and Swift  [PDF]
Taylor Aune,for the VERITAS Collaboration
Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.7529/ICRC2011/V08/0945
Abstract: In many theoretical models of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and their afterglows, the emission of photons above 100 GeV is predicted. The Large Area Telescope (LAT) on-board the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected delayed, high-energy emission (up to 90 GeV in the burst rest-frame) from several GRBs and no evidence of a high-energy spectral cutoff during the early afterglow phase of the burst has been found. Presented here are the results of follow-up observations with VERITAS, a ground-based telescope array sensitive to gamma-rays above 100 GeV, of GRBs detected by the Fermi and Swift satellites. These observations have not yielded a conclusive detection and the upper limits on very high energy (VHE, E>100 GeV) gamma-ray flux obtained from these observations are among the most constraining to date.
Helium in natal HII regions: the origin of the X-ray absorption in gamma-ray burst afterglows  [PDF]
Darach Watson,Tayyaba Zafar,Anja C. Andersen,Johan P. U. Fynbo,Javier Gorosabel,Jens Hjorth,Páll Jakobsson,Thomas Krühler,Peter Laursen,Giorgos Leloudas,Daniele Malesani
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/768/1/23
Abstract: Soft X-ray absorption in excess of Galactic is observed in the afterglows of most gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), but the correct solution to its origin has not been arrived at after more than a decade of work, preventing its use as a powerful diagnostic tool. We resolve this long-standing problem and find that He in the GRB's host HII region is responsible for most of the absorption. We show that the X-ray absorbing column density (N_Hx) is correlated with both the neutral gas column density and with the optical afterglow extinction (Av). This correlation explains the connection between dark bursts and bursts with high N_Hx values. From these correlations we exclude an origin of the X-ray absorption which is not related to the host galaxy, i.e. the intergalactic medium or intervening absorbers are not responsible. We find that the correlation with the dust column has a strong redshift evolution, whereas the correlation with the neutral gas does not. From this we conclude that the column density of the X-ray absorption is correlated with the total gas column density in the host galaxy rather than the metal column density, in spite of the fact that X-ray absorption is typically dominated by metals. The strong redshift evolution of N_Hx/Av is thus a reflection of the cosmic metallicity evolution of star-forming galaxies. We conclude that the absorption of X-rays in GRB afterglows is caused by He in the HII region hosting the GRB. While dust is destroyed and metals are stripped of all of their electrons by the GRB to great distances, the abundance of He saturates the He-ionising UV continuum much closer to the GRB, allowing it to remain in the neutral or singly-ionised state. Helium X-ray absorption explains the correlation with total gas, the lack of strong evolution with redshift as well as the absence of dust, metal or hydrogen absorption features in the optical-UV spectra.
Is there any evidence for extra-dimensions or quantum gravity effects from the delayed MeV-GeV photons in GRB 940217?  [PDF]
K. S. Cheng,T. Harko
Physics , 2004, DOI: 10.1016/j.astropartphys.2004.07.004
Abstract: The discovery of X-ray afterglows of GRBs, and the identification of host galaxies of GRBs, confirm the cosmological origin of GRBs. However, the discovery of the delayed MeV-GeV photons in GRB940217 imposes serious challenges for the standard emission model of GRB. Although the delayed MeV-GeV photons might be explained by some radiation emission mechanisms, the mystery of detecting an 18 GeV photon still remains unsolved. We suggest that the detection of the 18-GeV photon $ \sim $4500 s after the keV/MeV burst in GRB 940217 provides a strong evidence for the existence of extra-dimensions and/or quantum gravity effects. The delay scale of the 18-GeV photon leads to an estimation of the fundamental energy scale, associated with the linear energy dependence of the speed of light, of the order of $2.1\times 10^{15}$ GeV, which is consistent with the results obtained by another independent analysis on the data of OSSE and BATSE.
High Energy Spectral Components in Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglows  [PDF]
Bing Zhang,Peter Meszaros
Physics , 2001, DOI: 10.1086/322400
Abstract: We investigate two high energy radiation mechanisms, the proton synchrotron and the electron inverse Compton emission, and explore their possible signatures in the broad-band spectra and in the keV to GeV light curves of gamma-ray burst afterglows. We develop a simple analytical approach, allowing also for the effects of photon-photon pair production, and explore the conditions under which one or the other of these components dominates. We identify three parameter space regions where different spectral components dominate: (I) a region where the proton synchrotron and other hadron-related emission components dominate, which is small; (II) a region where the electron inverse Compton component dominates, which is substantial; (III) a third substantial region where electron synchrotron dominates. We discuss the prospects and astrophysical implications of directly detecting the inverse Compton and the proton high energy components in various bands, in particular in the GeV band with future missions such as GLAST, and in the X-ray band with Chandra. We find that regime II parameter space is the most favorable regime for high energy emission. The inverse Compton component is detectable by GLAST within hours for bursts at typical cosmological distances, and by Chandra in days if the ambient density is high.
Snapshot Identification of Gamma Ray Burst Optical Afterglows  [PDF]
James E. Rhoads
Physics , 2000, DOI: 10.1086/321664
Abstract: Gamma ray burst afterglows can be identified in single epoch observations using three or more optical filters. This method relies on color measurements to distinguish the power law spectrum of an afterglow from the curved spectra of stars. Observations in a fourth filter will further distinguish between afterglows and most galaxies up to redshifts z ~ 1. Many afterglows can also be identified with fewer filters using ultraviolet excess, infrared excess, or Lyman break techniques. By allowing faster identification of gamma ray burst afterglows, these color methods will increase the fraction of bursts for which optical spectroscopy and other narrow-field observations can be obtained. Because quasar colors can match those of afterglows, the maximum error box size where an unambiguous identification can be expected is set by the flux limit of the afterglow search and the quasar number-flux relation. For currently typical error boxes (10 -- 100 square arcminutes), little contamination is expected at magnitudes R < 21.5 +- 0.5. Archival data demonstrates that the afterglow of GRB 000301C could have been identified using this method. In addition to finding gamma ray burst counterparts, this method will have applications in ``orphan afterglow'' searches used to constrain gamma ray burst collimation.
Very Strong TeV Emission as Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglows  [PDF]
Tomonori Totani
Physics , 1998, DOI: 10.1086/311489
Abstract: Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and following afterglows are considered to be produced by dissipation of kinetic energy of a relativistic fireball and radiation process is widely believed as synchrotron radiation or inverse Compton scattering of electrons. We argue that the transfer of kinetic energy of ejecta into electrons may be inefficient process and hence the total energy released by a GRB event is much larger than that emitted in soft gamma-rays, by a factor of \sim (m_p/m_e). We show that, in this case, very strong emission of TeV gamma-rays is possible due to synchrotron radiation of protons accelerated up to \sim 10^{21} eV, which are trapped in the magnetic field of afterglow shock and radiate their energy on an observational time scale of \sim day. This suggests a possibility that GRBs are most energetic in TeV range and such TeV gamma-rays may be detectable from GRBs even at cosmological distances, i.e., z \sim 1, by currently working ground-based telescopes. Furthermore, this model gives a quantitative explanation for the famous long-duration GeV photons detected from GRB940217. If TeV gamma-ray emission which is much more energetic than GRB photons is detected, it provides a strong evidence for acceleration of protons up to \sim 10^{21} eV.
5-10 GeV Neutrinos from Gamma-Ray Burst Fireballs  [PDF]
John N. Bahcall,Peter Meszaros
Physics , 2000, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.85.1362
Abstract: A gamma-ray burst fireball is likely to contain an admixture of neutrons, in addition to protons, in essentially all progenitor scenarios. Inelastic collisions between differentially streaming protons and neutrons in the fireball produce muon neutrinos (antineutrinos) of ~ 10 GeV as well as electron neutrinos (antineutrinos) of ~ 5 GeV, which could produce ~ 7 events/year in kilometer cube detectors, if the neutron abundance is comparable to that of protons. Photons of ~ 10 GeV from pi-zero decay and ~ 100 MeV electron antineutrinos from neutron decay are also produced, but will be difficult to detect. Photons with energies < 1 MeV from shocks following neutron decay produce a characteristic signal which may be distinguishable from the proton-related MeV photons.
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