Intermittent mildly magnetized jets as the source of GRBs (February 2021)

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are powered by relativistic jets that exhibit intermittency over a broad range of timescales - from ~ ms to seconds. Previous numerical studies have shown that hydrodynamic (i.e., unmagnetized) jets that are expelled from a variable engine are subject to strong mixing of jet and cocoon material, which strongly inhibits the GRB emission. In this paper we conduct 3D RMHD simulations of mildly magnetized jets with power modulation over durations of 0.1 s and 1 s, and a steady magnetic field at injection. We find that when the jet magnetization at the launching site is σ~0.1, the initial magnetization is amplified by shocks formed in the flow to the point where it strongly suppresses baryon loading. We estimate that a significant contamination can be avoided if the magnetic energy at injection constitutes at least a few percent of the jet energy. The variability timescales of the jet after it breaks out of the star are then governed by the injection cycles rather than by the mixing process, suggesting that in practice jet injection should fluctuate on timescales as short as ~10 ms in order to account for the observed light curves. Better stability is found for jets with shorter modulations. We conclude that for sufficiently hot jets, the Lorentz factor near the photosphere can be high enough to allow efficient photospheric emission. Our results imply that jets with 1e−2<σ<1 injected by a variable engine with ∼10 ms duty cycle are plausible sources of long GRBs.
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Intermittent hydrodynamic jets in collapsars do not produce GRBs (February 2020)

Strong variability is a common characteristic of the prompt emission of GRBs. This observed variability is widely attributed to an intermittency of the central engine, through formation of strong internal shocks in the GRB-emitting jet expelled by the engine. In this paper we study numerically the propagation of hydrodynamic jets, injected periodically by a variable engine, through the envelope of a collapsed star. By post-processing the output of 3D numerical simulations, we compute the net radiative efficiency of the outflow. We find that all intermittent jets are subject to heavy baryon contamination that inhibits the emission at and above the photosphere well below detection limits. This is in contrast to continuous jets that, as shown recently, produce a highly variable gamma-ray photospheric emission with high efficiency, owing to the interaction of the jet with the stellar envelope. Our results challenge the variable engine model for hydrodynamic jets, and may impose constraints on the duty cycle of GRB engines. If such systems exist in nature, they are not expected to produce bright gamma-ray emission, but should appear as X-ray, optical and radio transients that resemble a delayed GRB afterglow signal.
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High efficiency photospheric emission entailed by formation of a collimation shock in gamma-ray bursts (April 2019)

As the jet drills through a dense medium, it generates a cocoon that applies pressure on the jet and collimates it. The collimation can considerably enhance the efficiency of the photospheric emission, depends on the baryon loading. 3D numerical simulations feature a substantial stratification of the outflow as well as sporadic loading, even if the injected jet is uniform and continuous. One consequence of this mixing is a strong angular dependence of the radiative efficiency. Another is large differences in the Lorentz factor of different fluid elements that lead to formation of internal shocks. Our analysis indicates that in both long and short GRBs a prominent photospheric component cannot be avoided when observed within an angle of a few degrees to the axis, unless the asymptotic Lorentz factor is limited by baryon loading at the jet base to a terminal Γ<100. Photon generation by newly created pairs behind the collimation shock regulates the observed temperature at 50/θ keV, where θ is the initial jet opening angle, in remarkable agreement with the observed peak energies of prompt emission spectra.
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