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Physical origin of X-ray flares following GRBs

Abstract

One of the major achievements of Swift is the discovery of the erratic X-ray flares harboring nearly half of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), both for long-duration and short-duration categories, and both for traditional hard GRBs and soft X-ray flashes (XRFs). Here I review the arguments in support of the suggestion that they are powered by reactivation of the GRB central engine, and that the emission site is typically ``internal'', i.e. at a distance within the forward shock front. The curvature effect that characterizes the decaying lightcurve slope during the fading phase of the flares provides an important clue. I will then discuss several suggestions to re-start the GRB central engine and comment on how future observations may help to unveil the physical origin of X-ray flares.Comment: 6 pages, 2 figure, uses aipproc.cls; to appear in ``16th Annual October Astrophysics Conference in Maryland", eds. S. Holt, N. Gehrels and J. Nousek, AIP Conf.Proc

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