An Observed Correlation between Thermal and Non-thermal Emission in GRBs

Published Mar 15, 2014

Burgess et al. 2014, ApJ, 784, 43

Recent observations by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have confirmed the existence of thermal and non-thermal components in the prompt photon spectra of some gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Through an analysis of six bright Fermi GRBs, we have discovered a correlation between the observed photospheric and non-thermal γ-ray emission components of several GRBs using a physical model that has previously been shown to be a good fit to the Fermi data. From the spectral parameters of these fits we find that the characteristic energies, E p and kT, of these two components are correlated via the relation E pvpropT α which varies from GRB to GRB. We present an interpretation in which the value of the index α indicates whether the jet is dominated by kinetic or magnetic energy. To date, this jet composition parameter has been assumed in the modeling of GRB outflows rather than derived from the data.

Burgess et al. 2014, ApJ, 784, 43