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Title: The supercritical pile gamma-ray burst model: The GRB afterglow steep decline and plateau phase

We present a process that accounts for the steep decline and plateau phase of the Swift X-Ray Telescope (XRT) light curves, vexing features of gamma-ray burst (GRB) phenomenology. This process is an integral part of the 'supercritical pile' GRB model, proposed a few years ago to account for the conversion of the GRB kinetic energy into radiation with a spectral peak at E {sub pk} ∼ m{sub e}c {sup 2}. We compute the evolution of the relativistic blast wave (RBW) Lorentz factor Γ to show that the radiation-reaction force due to the GRB emission can produce an abrupt, small (∼25%) decrease in Γ at a radius that is smaller (depending on conditions) than the deceleration radius R{sub D} . Because of this reduction, the kinematic criticality criterion of the 'supercritical pile' is no longer fulfilled. Transfer of the proton energy into electrons ceases and the GRB enters abruptly the afterglow phase at a luminosity smaller by ∼m{sub p} /m{sub e} than that of the prompt emission. If the radius at which this slow-down occurs is significantly smaller than R{sub D} , the RBW internal energy continues to drive the RBW expansion at a constant (new) Γ and its X-ray luminositymore » remains constant until R{sub D} is reached, at which point it resumes its more conventional decay, thereby completing the 'unexpected' XRT light curve phase. If this transition occurs at R ≅ R{sub D} , the steep decline is followed by a flux decrease instead of a 'plateau,' consistent with the conventional afterglow declines. Besides providing an account of these peculiarities, the model suggests that the afterglow phase may in fact begin before the RBW reaches R ≅ R{sub D} , thus providing novel insights into GRB phenomenology.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Mathematics Department, Faculty of Science, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080 (Malta)
  2. Astrophysics Science Division, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
  3. Department of Physics, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, GR 15783 Zografos (Greece)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22348553
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 779; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCELERATION; AFTERGLOW; COSMIC GAMMA BURSTS; DECAY; ELECTRONS; EMISSION; EVOLUTION; EXPANSION; EXPLOSIONS; LUMINOSITY; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; TELESCOPES; VISIBLE RADIATION; X RADIATION