Dynamics and Afterglow Light Curves of Gamma-Ray Burst Blast Waves Encountering a Density Bump or Void

TitleDynamics and Afterglow Light Curves of Gamma-Ray Burst Blast Waves Encountering a Density Bump or Void
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsUhm, Z L, Zhang, B
Journal\apj
Volume789
Pagination39
Keywordsgamma-ray burst: general, radiation mechanisms: non-thermal, shock waves
Abstract

{We investigate the dynamics and afterglow light curves of gamma-ray burst blast waves that encounter various density structures (such as bumps, voids, or steps) in the surrounding ambient medium. We present and explain the characteristic response features that each type of density structure in the medium leaves on the forward shock (FS) and reverse shock (RS) dynamics for blast waves with either a long-lived or short-lived RS. We show that when the ambient medium density drops, the blast waves exhibit in some cases a period of an actual acceleration (even during their deceleration stage) due to adiabatic cooling of blast waves. Comparing numerical examples that have different shapes of bumps or voids, we propose a number of consistency tests that must be satisfied by correct modeling of blast waves. Our model results successfully pass these tests. Employing a Lagrangian description of blast waves, we perform a sophisticated calculation of afterglow emission. We show that as a response to density structures in the ambient medium, the RS light curves produce more significant variations than the FS light curves. Some observed features (such as rebrightenings, dips, or slow wiggles) can be more easily explained within the RS model. We also discuss the origin of these different features imprinted on the FS and RS light curves. }

DOI10.1088/0004-637X/789/1/39
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