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Shock break-out: how a GRB revealed the beginnings of a supernova

By Er J. Blustin

Abstract

In February 2006, Swift caught a GRB in the act of turning into a supernova, and made the first ever direct observations of the break-out and early expansion of a supernova shock wave. GRB 060218 began with an exceptionally long burst of nonthermal gamma-rays, lasting over 2000 s, as a jet erupted through the surface of the star. While this was in progress, an optically-thick thermal component from the shock wave of the supernova explosion grew to prominence, and we were able to track the mildly relativistic expansion of this shell as the blackbody peak moved from the X-rays into the UV and optical bands. The initial radius of the shock implied that it was a blue supergiant which had exploded, but the lack of Hydrogen emission lines in the supernova spectrum indicated a more compact star. The most likely scenario is that the shock ploughed into the massive stellar wind of a Wolf-Rayet progenitor, with the shock breaking out and becoming visible to us once it reached the radius where the wind became optically-thin. I present the Swift observations of this landmark event, and discuss the new questions and answers it leaves us with

Topics: gamma rays, bursts, supernovae, individual (SN 2006aj, stars
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.317.1697
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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