FROM ENGINE TO AFTERGLOW: COLLAPSARS NATURALLY PRODUCE TOP-HEAVY JETS AND EARLY-TIME PLATEAUS IN GAMMA RAY BURST AFTERGLOWS

Paul C. Duffell, Andrew I. MacFadyen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    We demonstrate that the steep decay and long plateau in the early phases of gamma-ray burst X-ray afterglows are naturally produced in the collapsar model, by a means ultimately related to the dynamics of relativistic jet propagation through a massive star. We present two-dimensional axisymmetric hydrodynamical simulations that start from a collapsar engine and evolve all the way through the late afterglow phase. The resultant outflow includes a jet core that is highly relativistic after breaking out of the star, but becomes baryon loaded after colliding with a massive outer shell, corresponding to mass from the stellar atmosphere of the progenitor star which became trapped in front of the jet core at breakout. The prompt emission produced before or during this collision would then have the signature of a high Lorentz factor jet, but the afterglow is produced by the amalgamated post-collision ejecta that has more inertia than the original highly relativistic jet core and thus has a delayed deceleration. This naturally explains the early light curve behavior discovered by Swift, including a steep decay and a long plateau, without invoking late-time energy injection from the central engine. The numerical simulation is performed continuously from engine to afterglow, covering a dynamic range of over 10 orders of magnitude in radius. Light curves calculated from the numerical output demonstrate that this mechanism reproduces basic features seen in early afterglow data. Initial steep decays are produced by internal shocks, and the plateau corresponds to the coasting phase of the outflow.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number205
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Volume806
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 20 2015

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    Keywords

    • ISM: jets and outflows
    • gamma-ray burst: general
    • hydrodynamics
    • relativistic processes
    • shock waves

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science

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