Major advances have been made in the field of gamma-ray bursts in the last two years. The successful discovery of X-ray, optical and radio afterglows, which were predicted by theory, has made possible the identification of host galaxies at cosmological distances. The energy release inferred in these outbursts place them among the most energetic and violent events in the Universe. Current models envisage this to be the outcome of a cataclysmic event leading to a relativistically expanding fireball, in which particles are accelerated at shocks and produce nonthermal radiation. The substantial agreement between observations and the theoretical predictions of the standard fireball shock model provide confirmation of the basic aspects of this scenario. The continued observations show a diversity of behavior, providing valuable constraints for more detailed, post-standard models which incorporate more realistic physical features. Crucial questions being now addressed are the beaming at different energies and its implications for the energetics, the time structure of the afterglow, its dependence on the central engine or progenitor system behavior, and the role of the environment on the evolution of the afterglow.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics