We discuss the effects of synchrotron self-absorption in the prompt emission from the reverse shock of gamma-ray burst afterglows in a dense environment, such as the wind of a stellar progenitor or a dense interstellar medium in early galaxies. We point out that when synchrotron losses dominate over inverse Compton losses, the higher self-absorption frequency in a dense environment implies a bump in the reverse-shock emission spectrum, which can result in a more complex optical/IR light curve than previously thought. This bump is prominent especially if the burst ejecta is highly magnetized. In the opposite case of low magnetization, inverse Compton losses lead to a prompt X-ray flare. These effects give a possible new diagnostic for the magnetic energy density in the fireball and for the presence of a dense environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science