Nonthermal gamma-ray/x-ray flashes from shock breakout in gamma-ray burst-associated supernovae

Xiang Yu Wang, Zhuo Li, Eli Waxman, Peter Mészáros

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Thermal X-ray emission that is simultaneous with prompt gamma-ray emission has been detected for the first time from a supernova associated with a gamma-ray burst (GRB), namely GRB 060218/SN 2006aj. It has been interpreted as arising from the breakout of a mildly relativistic, radiation-dominated shock from a dense stellar wind surrounding the progenitor star. There is also evidence for the presence of a mildly relativistic ejecta in GRB 980425/SN 1998bw, based on its X-ray and radio afterglow. Here we study the process of repeated bulk Comp ton scatterings of shock breakout thermal photons by the mildly relativistic ejecta. During the shock breakout process, a fraction of the thermal photons would be repeatedly scattered between the preshock material and the shocked material, as well as the mildly relativistic ejecta, and as a result, the thermal photons get boosted to increasingly higher energies. This bulk motion Comptonization mechanism will produce nonthermal gamma-ray and X-ray flashes, which could account for the prompt gamma-ray burst emission in low-luminosity supernova-connected GRBs, such as GRB 060218. A Monte Carlo code has been developed to simulate this repeated scattering process, which confirms that a significant fraction of the thermal photons get "accelerated" to form a nonthermal component, with a dominant luminosity. This interpretation for the prompt nonthermal emission of GRB 060218 may imply that either the usual internal shock emission from highly relativistic jets in these low-luminosity GRBs is weak, or alternatively, that there are no highly relativistic jets in this particular class of bursts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1032
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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