Volume 526, February 2011
|Number of page(s)
|16 December 2010
Gamma-ray burst long lasting X-ray flaring activity⋆
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera,
via Bianchi 46, 23807
Merate ( LC), Italy
2 ICRANet, p.le della Repubblica 10, 65100 Pescara, Italy
3 University of Milano Bicocca, Physics Dept., P.zza della Scienza 3, Milano 20126, Italy
4 University of Ferrara, Physics Dept., via Saragat 1, 44122 Ferrara, Italy
5 Yunnan Observatory & Key Laboratory for the Structure and Evolution of Celestial Objects, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan Province 650011, PR China
Received: 6 September 2010
Accepted: 2 October 2010
Context. One of the most intriguing features revealed by the Swift satellite are flares that are superimposed on the gamma-ray burst (GRB) X-ray light curves. The vast majority of flares occurs before 1000 s, but some of them can be found up to 106 s after the main event.
Aims. We shed light on late-time (i.e. with peak time tpk ≳ 1000 s) flaring activity. We address the morphology and energetic of flares in the window ~103−106 s to put constraints on the temporal evolution of the flare properties and to identify possible differences in the mechanism producing the early and late-time flaring emission, if any. This requires the complete understanding of the observational biases affecting the detection of X-ray flares superimposed on a fading continuum at t > 1000 s.
Methods. We consider all Swift GRBs that exhibit late-time flares. Our sample consists of 36 flares, 14 with redshift measurements. We inherit the strategy of data analysis from Chincarini et al. (2010) in order to make a direct comparison with the early-time flare properties.
Results. The morphology of the flare light curve is the same for both early-time and late-time flares, but they differ energetically. The width of late-time flares increases with time similarly to the early-time flares. Simulations confirmed that the increase of the width with time is not owing to the decaying statistics, at least up to 104 s. The energy output of late-time flares is one order of magnitude lower than the early-time flare one,and is ~1%Eprompt. The evolution of the peak luminosity as well as the distribution of the peak-flux-to-continuum ratio for late-time flares indicate that the flaring emission is decoupled from the underlying continuum, differently from early-time flares/steep decay. A sizable fraction of late-time flares are compatible with afterglow variability.
Conclusions. The internal shock origin seems the most promising explanation for flares. However, some differences that emerge between late- and early-time flares suggest that there could be no unique explanation about the nature of late-time flares.
Key words: radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / gamma-rays: general / X-rays: general
© ESO, 2010
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