Synchrotron emission in GRBs observed by Fermi: Its limitations and the role of the photosphere

S. Iyyani, F. Ryde, J. M. Burgess, A. Pe'er, D. Bégué

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21 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that the prompt emission in gamma-ray bursts consists of several components giving rise to the observed spectral shape. Here we examine a sample of the eight brightest, single pulsed Fermi bursts whose spectra are modelled by using synchrotron emission as one of the components. Five of these bursts require an additional photospheric component (blackbody). In particular, we investigate the inferred properties of the jet and the physical requirements set by the observed components for these five bursts, in the context of a baryonic dominated outflow, motivated by the strong photospheric component. We find similar jet properties for all five bursts: the bulk Lorentz factor decreases monotonously over the pulses and lies between 1000 and 100. This evolution is robust and can neither be explained by a varying radiative efficiency nor a varying magnetization of the jet (assuming the photosphere radius is above the coasting radius). Such a behaviour challenges several dissipation mechanisms, e.g. the internal shocks. Furthermore, in all eight cases the data clearly reject a fast-cooled synchrotron spectrum (in which a significant fraction of the emitting electrons have cooled to energies below the minimum injection energy), inferring a typical electron Lorentz factor of 104-107. Such values are much higher than what is typically expected in internal shocks. Therefore, while the synchrotron scenario is not rejected by the data, the interpretation does present several limitations that need to be addressed. Finally, we point out and discuss alternative interpretations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2157-2171
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
  • Radiation mechanisms: thermal


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