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 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. They are thought to be the outcome of a cataclysmic stellar collapse or compact stellar merger, 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 provides confirmation of the basic aspects of this scenario. New issues being raised by the most recent observations concern the amount and the nature of the collimation of the outflow and its implications for the energetics, the production of prompt bright flashes at wavelengths much longer than gamma-rays, 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
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)