On the synchrotron self-compton emission from relativistic shocks and its implications for gamma-ray burst afterglows

Re'em Sari*, Ann A. Esin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

389 Scopus citations

Abstract

We consider the effects of inverse Compton scattering of synchrotron photons from relativistic electrons in γ-ray burst (GRB) afterglows. We compute the spectrum of the inverse Compton emission and find that it can dominate the total cooling rate of the afterglow for several months or even years after the initial explosion. We demonstrate that the presence of strong inverse Compton cooling can be deduced from the effect it has on the time evolution of the cooling break in the synchrotron spectral component, and therefore on the optical and X-ray afterglow light curves. We then show how the physical interpretation of the observed characteristics of the synchrotron spectrum must be modified to take into consideration this extra source of cooling and give a revised prescription for computing physical parameters characterizing the expanding shock wave from the observed quantities. We find that for a given set of observables (synchrotron break frequencies and fluxes) there is either no consistent physical interpretation or two of them. Finally we discuss the prospects of directly detecting the inverse Compton emission with Chandra. We argue that such a detection is possible for GRBs exploding in a reasonably dense (n ≳ 1 cm-3) medium.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)787-799
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume548
Issue number2 PART 1
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gamma rays: bursts
  • Radiation mechanisms: nonthermal

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'On the synchrotron self-compton emission from relativistic shocks and its implications for gamma-ray burst afterglows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this