Pulsations in short gamma ray bursts from black hole-neutron star mergers

Nicholas Stone*, Abraham Loeb, Edo Berger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

The precise of short gamma ray bursts (SGRBs) remains an important open question in relativistic astrophysics. Increasingly, observational evidence suggests the merger of a binary compact object system as the source for most SGRBs, but it is currently unclear how to distinguish observationally between a binary neutron star progenitor and a black hole-neutron star progenitor. We suggest the quasiperiodic signal of jet precession as an observational signature of SGRBs originating in mixed binary systems, and quantify both the fraction of mixed binaries capable of producing SGRBs and the distributions of precession amplitudes and periods. The difficulty inherent in disrupting a neutron star outside the horizon of a stellar mass black hole biases the jet precession signal towards low amplitude and high frequency. Precession periods of ∼0.01-0.1 s and disk-black hole spin misalignments ∼10 are generally expected, although sufficiently high viscosity may prevent the accumulation of multiple precession periods during the SGRB. The precessing jet will naturally cover a larger solid angle in the sky than would standard SGRB jets, enhancing observability for both prompt emission and optical afterglows.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number084053
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Volume87
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

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