Swift captures the spectrally evolving prompt emission of GRB 070616

R. L.C. Starling, P. T. O'Brien, R. Willingale, K. L. Page, J. P. Osborne, M. De Pasquale, Y. E. Nakagawa, N. P.M. Kuin, K. Onda, J. P. Norris, T. N. Ukwatta, N. Kodaka, D. N. Burrows, J. A. Kennea, M. J. Page, M. Perri, C. B. Markwardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The origins of gamma-ray burst (GRB) prompt emission are currently not well understood and in this context long, well-observed events are particularly important to study. We present the case of GRB 070616, analysing the exceptionally long-duration multipeaked prompt emission, and later afterglow, captured by all the instruments on-board Swift and by Suzaku Wide-Band All-Sky Monitor (WAM). The high-energy light curve remained generally flat for several hundred seconds before going into a steep decline. Spectral evolution from hard to soft is clearly taking place throughout the prompt emission, beginning at 285 s after the trigger and extending to 1200 s. We track the movement of the spectral peak energy, whilst observing a softening of the low-energy spectral slope. The steep decline in flux may be caused by a combination of this strong spectral evolution and the curvature effect. We investigate origins for the spectral evolution, ruling out a superposition of two power laws and considering instead an additional component dominant during the late prompt emission. We also discuss origins for the early optical emission and the physics of the afterglow. The case of GRB 070616 clearly demonstrates that both broad-band coverage and good time resolution are crucial to pin down the origins of the complex prompt emission in GRBs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-514
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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