Journal Article

Taxonomy of gamma-ray burst optical light curves: identification of a salient class of early afterglows

A. Panaitescu and W. T. Vestrand

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 2, pages 497-504
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13231.x
Taxonomy of gamma-ray burst optical light curves: identification of a salient class of early afterglows

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The temporal behaviour of the early optical emission from gamma-ray burst afterglows can be divided into four classes: fast-rising with an early peak, slow-rising with a late peak, flat plateaus and rapid decays since first measurement. The fast-rising optical afterglows display correlations among peak flux, peak epoch and post-peak power-law decay index that can be explained with a structured outflow seen off-axis, but the shock origin (reverse or forward) of the optical emission cannot be determined. The afterglows with plateaus and slow rises may be accommodated by the same model, if observer location offsets are larger than for the fast-rising afterglows, or could be due to a long-lived injection of energy and/or ejecta in the blast wave. If better calibrated with more afterglows, the peak flux–peak epoch relation exhibited by the fast- and slow-rising optical light curves could provide a way to use this type of afterglows as standard candles.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; shock waves; gamma-rays: bursts

Journal Article.  6029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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