skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: DIVERSITY OF SHORT GAMMA-RAY BURST AFTERGLOWS FROM COMPACT BINARY MERGERS HOSTING PULSARS

Short-duration gamma-ray bursts (sGRBs) are widely believed to result from the mergers of compact binaries. This model predicts an afterglow that bears the characteristic signatures of a constant, low-density medium, including a smooth prompt-afterglow transition, and a simple temporal evolution. However, these expectations are in conflict with observations for a non-negligible fraction of sGRB afterglows. In particular, the onset of the afterglow phase for some of these events appears to be delayed and, in addition, a few of them exhibit late-time rapid fading in their light curves. We show that these peculiar observations can be explained independently of ongoing central engine activity if some sGRB progenitors are compact binaries hosting at least one pulsar. The Poynting flux emanating from the pulsar companion can excavate a bow-shock cavity surrounding the binary. If this cavity is larger than the shock deceleration length scale in the undisturbed interstellar medium, then the onset of the afterglow will be delayed. Should the deceleration occur entirely within the swept-up thin shell, a rapid fade in the light curve will ensue. We identify two types of pulsar that can achieve the conditions necessary for altering the afterglow: low-field, long-lived pulsars, and high-field pulsars. We find that amore » sizable fraction (≈20%-50%) of low-field pulsars are likely to reside in neutron star binaries based on observations, while their high-field counterparts are not. Hydrodynamical calculations motivated by this model are shown to be in good agreement with observations of sGRB afterglow light curves.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365590
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 790; 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; BINARY STARS; COSMIC GAMMA BURSTS; DENSITY; NEUTRON STARS; PULSARS; SHOCK WAVES; STAR EVOLUTION; VISIBLE RADIATION