Spectra and light curves of gamma-ray burst afterglows

Re'em Sari*, Tsvi Piran, Ramesh Narayan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1875 Scopus citations


The recently discovered gamma-ray burst afterglow is believed to be described reasonably well by synchrotron emission from a decelerating relativistic shell that collides with an external medium. To compare theoretical models with afterglow observations, we calculate here the broadband spectrum and corresponding light curve of synchrotron radiation from a power-law distribution of electrons in an expanding relativistic shock. Both the spectrum and the light curve consist of several power-law segments with related indices. The light curve is constructed under two limiting models for the hydrodynamic evolution of the shock: fully adiabatic and fully radiative. We give explicit relations between the spectral index and the temporal power-law index. Future observations should be able to distinguish between the possible behaviors and determine the type of solution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)L17-L20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART II
StatePublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NASA grant NAG5-3516 and a US-Israel BSF grant 95-328. Re’em Sari thanks the Clore Foundations for support.


  • Gamma rays: bursts
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Relativity
  • Shock waves


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