318 research outputs found

    GRB minimum variability timescale with Insight-HXMT and Swift. Implications for progenitor models, dissipation physics, and GRB classifications

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    The dissipation process of GRB prompt emission is still unknown. Study of temporal variability may provide a unique way to discriminate the imprint of the inner engine activity from geometry and propagation related effects. We define the minimum variability timescale (MVT) as the shortest duration of individual pulses that shape a light curve for a sample of GRBs and test correlations with peak luminosity, Lorentz factor, and jet opening angle. We compare these correlations with predictions from recent numerical simulations for a relativistic structured -- possibly wobbling -- jet and assess the value of MTV as probe of prompt-emission physics. We used the peak detection algorithm mepsa to identify the shortest pulse within a GRB time history and estimate its full width half maximum (FWHM). We applied this framework to two sets of GRBs: Swift (from 2005 to July 2022) and Insight-HXMT (from June 2017 to July 2021, including 221009A). We then selected 401 GRBs with measured z to test for correlations. On average short GRBs have significantly shorter MVT than long GRBs. The MVT distribution of short GRBs with extended emission such as 060614 and 211211A is compatible only with that of short GRBs. This provides a new clue on the progenitor's nature. The MVT for long GRBs anticorrelates with peak luminosity. We confirm the anticorrelation with the Lorentz factor and find a correlation with the jet opening angle as estimated from the afterglow, along with an inverse correlation with the number of pulses. The MVT can identify the emerging putative new class of long GRBs that are suggested to be produced by compact binary mergers. For otherwise typical long GRBs, the different correlations between MVT and peak luminosity, Lorentz factor, jet opening angle, and number of pulses can be explained within the context of structured, possibly wobbling, weakly magnetised relativistic jets. (summarised)Comment: 18 pages, 15 figures, accepted by A&

    A flash of polarized optical light points to an aspherical ‘cow’

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    The astronomical transient AT2018cow is the closest example of the new class of luminous, fast blue optical transients (FBOTs). Liverpool Telescope RINGO3 observations of AT 2018cow are reported here, which constitute the earliest polarimetric observations of an FBOT. At 5.7 days post-explosion, the optical emission of AT2018cow exhibited a chromatic polarization spike that reached 7%\sim 7{{\%}} at red wavelengths. This is the highest intrinsic polarization recorded for a non-relativistic explosive transient, and is observed in multiple bands and at multiple epochs over the first night of observations, before rapidly declining. The apparent wavelength dependence of the polarization may arise through depolarization or dilution of the polarized flux, due to conditions in AT 2018cow at early times. A second ‘bump’ in the polarization is observed at blue wavelengths at ∼12 days. Such a high polarization requires an extremely aspherical geometry that is only apparent for a brief period (<1 day), such as shock breakout through an optically thick disk. For a disk-like configuration, the ratio of the thickness to radial extent must be 10%\sim 10{{\%}}

    The Radio to GeV Afterglow of GRB 221009A

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    GRB 221009A ( z = 0.151) is one of the closest known long γ -ray bursts (GRBs). Its extreme brightness across all electromagnetic wavelengths provides an unprecedented opportunity to study a member of this still-mysterious class of transients in exquisite detail. We present multiwavelength observations of this extraordinary event, spanning 15 orders of magnitude in photon energy from radio to γ -rays. We find that the data can be partially explained by a forward shock (FS) from a highly collimated relativistic jet interacting with a low-density, wind-like medium. Under this model, the jet’s beaming-corrected kinetic energy ( E _K ∼ 4 × 10 ^50 erg) is typical for the GRB population. The radio and millimeter data provide strong limiting constraints on the FS model, but require the presence of an additional emission component. From equipartition arguments, we find that the radio emission is likely produced by a small amount of mass (≲6 × 10 ^−7 M _⊙ ) moving relativistically (Γ ≳ 9) with a large kinetic energy (≳10 ^49 erg). However, the temporal evolution of this component does not follow prescriptions for synchrotron radiation from a single power-law distribution of electrons (e.g., in a reverse shock or two-component jet), or a thermal-electron population, perhaps suggesting that one of the standard assumptions of afterglow theory is violated. GRB 221009A will likely remain detectable with radio telescopes for years to come, providing a valuable opportunity to track the full lifecycle of a powerful relativistic jet

    Rubin Observatory’s Survey Strategy Performance for Tidal Disruption Events

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    Tidal disruption events (TDEs) are rare transients, which are considered as promising tools for probing supermassive black holes in quiescent galaxies. The majority of the ≈60 known TDEs have been discovered with time-domain surveys in the last two decades. Currently, ≈10 TDEs are discovered per year, and this number will increase with the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) at the Rubin Observatory. This work evaluates LSST survey strategies in view of their performance in identifying TDEs. We assume that TDEs can be identified photometrically based on their colors, particularly in the u band, and will be scientifically useful if we can detect the light-curve peak to derive physical quantities. We define the requirements for the Rubin light curves that are needed to achieve this (detections prepeak, postpeak, and in different bands to measure color). We then inject model light curves into the Operations Simulator and calculate the fractions of TDEs passing our requirements for several strategies. We find that under the baseline strategy, ≈1.5% of simulated TDEs fulfill our detection criteria, while this number increases when more time is devoted to u -band observations. An ideal observing strategy for the photometric identification of TDEs would have longer u -band exposures, which should not come at the expense of fewer u -band visits. A filter distribution weighted toward more observing time in bluer bands, intranight visits in different filters, and strategies with frequent sampling leading to higher-quality light curves are preferred. We find that these strategies benefiting TDE science do not impact significantly other science cases

    A flash of polarized optical light points to an aspherical "cow"

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    The astronomical transient AT2018cow is the closest example of the new class of luminous, fast blue optical transients (FBOTs). Liverpool Telescope RINGO3 observations of AT2018cow are reported here, which constitute the earliest polarimetric observations of an FBOT. At 5.7 days post-explosion, the optical emission of AT2018cow exhibited a chromatic polarization spike that reached ~7% at red wavelengths. This is the highest intrinsic polarization recorded for a non-relativistic explosive transient, and is observed in multiple bands and at multiple epochs over the first night of observations, before rapidly declining. The apparent wavelength dependence of the polarization may arise through depolarization or dilution of the polarized flux, due to conditions in AT~2018cow at early times. A second ``bump" in the polarization is observed at blue wavelengths at ~12 days. Such a high polarization requires an extremely aspherical geometry that is only apparent for a brief period (<1 day), such as shock breakout through an optically thick disk. For a disk-like configuration, the ratio of the thickness to radial extent must be ~10%.Comment: MNRAS Accepted, 10 pages, 8 figure

    GRB minimum variability timescale with Insight-HXMT and Swift: implications for progenitor models, dissipation physics and GRB classifications

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    The dissipation process of GRB prompt emission is still unknown. Study of temporal variability may provide a unique way to discriminate the imprint of the inner engine activity from geometry and propagation related effects. We define the minimum variability timescale (MVT) as the shortest duration of individual pulses that shape a light curve for a sample of GRBs and test correlations with peak luminosity, Lorentz factor, and jet opening angle. We compare these correlations with predictions from recent numerical simulations for a relativistic structured -- possibly wobbling -- jet and assess the value of MTV as probe of prompt-emission physics. We used the peak detection algorithm mepsa to identify the shortest pulse within a GRB time history and estimate its full width half maximum (FWHM). We applied this framework to two sets of GRBs: Swift (from 2005 to July 2022) and Insight-HXMT (from June 2017 to July 2021, including 221009A). We then selected 401 GRBs with measured z to test for correlations. On average short GRBs have significantly shorter MVT than long GRBs. The MVT distribution of short GRBs with extended emission such as 060614 and 211211A is compatible only with that of short GRBs. This provides a new clue on the progenitor's nature. The MVT for long GRBs anticorrelates with peak luminosity. We confirm the anticorrelation with the Lorentz factor and find a correlation with the jet opening angle as estimated from the afterglow, along with an inverse correlation with the number of pulses. The MVT can identify the emerging putative new class of long GRBs that are suggested to be produced by compact binary mergers. For otherwise typical long GRBs, the different correlations between MVT and peak luminosity, Lorentz factor, jet opening angle, and number of pulses can be explained within the context of structured, possibly wobbling, weakly magnetised relativistic jets. (summarised)Comment: 18 pages, 15 figures, accepted by A&

    The rise and fall of the iron-strong nuclear transient PS16dtm

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    Context. Thanks to the advent of large-scale optical surveys, a diverse set of flares from the nuclear regions of galaxies has recently been discovered. These include the disruption of stars by supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies – nuclear transients known as tidal disruption events (TDEs). Active galactic nuclei (AGN) can show extreme changes in the brightness and emission line intensities, often referred to as changing-look AGN (CLAGN). Given the physical and observational similarities, the interpretation and distinction of nuclear transients as CLAGN or TDEs remains difficult. One of the obstacles of making progress in the field is the lack of well-sampled data of long-lived nuclear outbursts in AGN. Aims. Here, we study PS16dtm, a nuclear transient in a Narrow Line Seyfert 1 (NLSy1) galaxy, which has been proposed to be a TDE candidate. Our aim is to study the spectroscopic and photometric properties of PS16dtm, in order to better understand the outbursts originating in NLSy1 galaxies. Methods. Our extensive multiwavelength follow-up that spans around 2000 days includes photometry and spectroscopy in the UV/optical, as well as mid-infrared (MIR) and X-ray observations. Furthermore, we improved an existing semiempirical model in order to reproduce the spectra and study the evolution of the spectral lines. Results. The UV/optical light curve shows a double peak at ∼50 and ∼100 days after the first detection, and it declines and flattens afterward, reaching preoutburst levels after 2000 days of monitoring. The MIR light curve rises almost simultaneously with the optical, but unlike the UV/optical which is approaching the preoutburst levels in the last epochs of our observations, the MIR emission is still rising at the time of writing. The optical spectra show broad Balmer features and the strongest broad Fe II emission ever detected in a nuclear transient. This broad Fe II emission was not present in the archival preoutburst spectrum and almost completely disappeared +1868 days after the outburst. We found that the majority of the flux of the broad Balmer and Fe II lines is produced by photoionization. We detect only weak X-ray emission in the 0.5−8 keV band at the location of PS16dtm, at +848, +1130, and +1429 days past the outburst. This means that the X-ray emission continues to be lower by at least an order of magnitude, compared to archival, preoutburst measurements. Conclusions. We confirm that the observed properties of PS16dtm are difficult to reconcile with normal AGN variability. The TDE scenario continues to be a plausible explanation for the observed properties, even though PS16dtm shows differences compared to TDE in quiescent galaxies. We suggest that this event is part of a growing sample of TDEs that show broad Balmer line profiles and Fe II complexes. We argue that the extreme variability seen in the AGN host due to PS16dtm may have easily been misclassified as a CLAGN, especially if the rising part of the light curve had been missed. This implies that some changing look episodes in AGN may be triggered by TDEs. Imaging and spectroscopic data of AGN with good sampling are needed to enable testing of possible physical mechanisms behind the extreme variability in AGN

    Observational constraints on the optical and near-infrared emission from the neutron star-black hole binary merger candidate S190814bv

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    Radio data challenge the broadband modelling of GRB160131A afterglow

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    Context. Gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglows originate from the interaction between the relativistic ejecta and the surrounding medium. Consequently, their properties depend on several aspects: radiation mechanisms, relativistic shock micro-physics, circumburst environment, and the structure and geometry of the relativistic jet. While the standard afterglow model accounts for the overall spectral and temporal evolution for a number of GRBs, its validity limits emerge when the data set is particularly rich and constraining, especially in the radio band. Aims. We aimed to model the afterglow of the long GRB160131A (redshift z=0.972z = 0.972), for which we collected a rich, broadband, and accurate data set, spanning from 6×1086\times10^{8} to 7×10177\times10^{17} Hz in frequency, and from 330 s to 160 days post burst in time. Methods. We modelled the spectral and temporal evolution of this GRB afterglow through two approaches: the adoption of empirical functions to model optical/X-rays data set, later assessing their compatibility with the radio domain; the inclusion of the entire multi-frequency data set simultaneously through the Python package named sAGa (Software for AfterGlow Analysis), to come up with an exhaustive and self-consistent description of the micro-physics, geometry, and dynamics of the afterglow. Results. From deep broadband analysis (from radio to X-ray frequencies) of the afterglow light curves, GRB160131A outflow shows evidence of jetted emission. Moreover, we observe dust extinction in the optical spectra, and energy injection in the optical/X-ray data. Radio spectra are characterised by several peaks, that could be due to either interstellar scintillation (ISS) effects or a multi-component structure. Conclusions. The inclusion of radio data in the broadband set of GRB160131A makes a self-consistent modelling hardly attainable within the standard model of GRB afterglows.Comment: 36 pages, 16 figures, 8 tables, accepted by A&A; v2: updated Acknowledgement
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