Volume 526, February 2011
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Published online||15 December 2010|
The circumburst density profile around GRB progenitors: a statistical study⋆
Centre for Astrophysics and Cosmology, Science Institute, University of
Iceland, Dunhagi 5,
2 Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße 3, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 Universe Cluster, Technische Universität München, Boltzmannstraße 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
5 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
6 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna (ULL), 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Accepted: 21 October 2010
According to our present understanding, long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) originate from the collapse of massive stars, while short bursts are caused by to the coalescence of compact stellar objects. Because the afterglow evolution is determined by the circumburst density profile, n(r), traversed by the fireball, it can be used to distinguish between a constant density medium, n(r) = const., and a free stellar wind, n(r) ∝ r-2. Our goal is to derive the most probable circumburst density profile for a large number of Swift-detected bursts using well-sampled afterglow light curves in the optical and X-ray bands. We combined all publicly available optical and Swift/X-ray afterglow data from June 2005 to September 2009 to find the best-sampled late-time afterglow light curves. After applying several selection criteria, our final sample consists of 27 bursts, including one short burst. The afterglow evolution was then studied within the framework of the fireball model. We find that the majority (18) of the 27 afterglow light curves are compatible with a constant density medium (ISM case). Only 6 of the 27 afterglows show evidence of a wind profile at late times. In particular, we set upper limits on the wind termination-shock radius, RT, for GRB fireballs that are propagating into an ISM profile and lower limits on RT for those that were found to propagate through a wind medium. Observational evidence for ISM profiles dominates in GRB afterglow studies, implying that most GRB progenitors might have relatively small wind termination-shock radii. A smaller group of progenitors, however, seems to be characterised by significantly more extended wind regions.
Key words: gamma-ray burst: general / ISM: structure / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
Appendices are only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2010
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