The first survey of X-ray flares from gamma-ray bursts observed by Swift: Spectral properties and energetics

A. D. Falcone, D. Morris, J. Racusin, G. Chincarini, A. Moretti, P. Romano, D. N. Burrows, C. Pagani, M. Stroh, D. Grupe, S. Campana, S. Covino, G. Tagliaferri, R. Willingale, N. Gehrels

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168 Scopus citations


GRB observations with Swift produced the initially surprising result that many bursts have large, late-time X-ray flares. The flares were sometimes intense, had rapid rise and decay phases, and occurred late relative to the prompt phase. Many GRBs have had several flares, which were sometimes overlapping. The origin of the flares can be investigated by comparing the spectra during the flares to those of the afterglow and the initial prompt emission. In this work we have analyzed all significant X-ray flares from the first 110 GRBs observed by Swift. Significant X-ray flares (>3 σ) were found in 33 of these GRBs, with 77 flares detected. A variety of spectral models have been fit to each flare. We find that the spectral fits sometimes favor a Band function model, which is more akin to the prompt emission than to that of the afterglow. While some flares are approximately as energetic as the prompt GRB emission, we find that the average fluence of the flares is approximately 10 times below the average prompt GRB fluence. We also find that the peak energy of the observed flares is typically in the soft X-ray band, as one might expect due to the X-ray selection of the sample. These results, when combined with those presented in the companion paper on temporal properties of flares, support the hypothesis that many X-ray flares are from late-time activity of the internal engine that spawned the initial GRB, not from an afterglow-related effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1938
Number of pages18
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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