Iron K-alpha Emission from X-ray Reflection: Predictions for Gamma-Ray Burst Models


Recent observations of several gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglows have shown evidence for a large amount of X-ray line emitting material, possibly arising from ionized iron. A significant detection of an X-ray spectral feature, such as that found in the Chandra observation of GRB 991216, may provide important constraints on the immediate environment of the burst and hence on progenitor models. The large Fe K-alpha equivalent widths inferred from the X-ray observations favor models in which the line is produced when the primary X-ray emission from the source strikes Thomson-thick material and Compton scatters into our line of sight. We present such reflection spectra here, computed in a fully self-consistent manner, and discuss the range of ionization parameters that may be relevant to different models of GRBs. We argue that the presence of a strong hydrogen-like K-alpha line is unlikely, because Fe-XXVI photons would be trapped resonantly and removed from the line core by Compton scattering. In contrast, a strong narrow emission line from He-like Fe-XXV is prominent in the model spectra. We briefly discuss how these constraints may affect the line energy determination in GRB 991216.Comment: 8 pages, 3 figures, Ap.J. Letters accepte

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    Last time updated on 16/03/2019