Journal Article

Adiabatic expansion, early X-ray data and the central engine in GRBs

R. Barniol Duran and P. Kumar

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 395, issue 2, pages 955-961
Published in print May 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Adiabatic expansion, early X-ray data and the central engine in GRBs

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The Swift satellite early X-ray data show a very steep decay in most of the gamma-ray bursts light curves. This decay is either produced by the rapidly declining continuation of the central engine activity or by some leftover radiation starting right after the central engine shuts off. The latter scenario consists of the emission from an ‘ember’ that cools via adiabatic expansion and, if the jet angle is larger than the inverse of the source Lorentz factor, the large angle emission. In this work, we calculate the temporal and spectral properties of the emission from such a cooling ember, providing a new treatment for the microphysics of the adiabatic expansion. We use the adiabatic invariance of p2/B (p is the component of the electrons' momentum normal to the magnetic field, B) to calculate the electrons' Lorentz factor during the adiabatic expansion; the electron momentum becomes more and more aligned with the local magnetic field as the expansion develops. We compare the theoretical expectations of the adiabatic expansion (and the large angle emission) with the current observations of the early X-ray data and find that only ∼20 per cent of our sample of 107 bursts are potentially consistent with this model. This leads us to believe that, for most bursts, the central engine does not turn off completely during the steep decay of the X-ray light curve; therefore, this phase is produced by the continued rapidly declining activity of the central engine.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal; methods: analytical; gamma-rays: bursts; gamma-rays: theory

Journal Article.  6173 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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