A characteristic dense environment or wind signature in prompt gamma-ray burst afterglows

Shiho Kobayashi, Peter Mészáros, Bing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L13-L16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume601
Issue number1 II
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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