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How Bad/Good Are the External Forward Shock Afterglow Models of Gamma-Ray Bursts?

  • Wang, Xiang-Gao
  • Zhang, Bing
  • Liang, En-Wei
  • Gao, He
  • Li, Liang
  • Deng, Can-Min
  • Qin, Song-Mei
  • Tang, Qing-Wen
  • Kann, D. Alexander
  • Ryde, Felix
  • Kumar, Pawan
Published Article
Publication Date
Jun 05, 2015
Submission Date
Mar 11, 2015
DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/219/1/9
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The external forward shock (EFS) models have been the standard paradigm to interpret the broad-band afterglow data of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). One prediction of the models is that some afterglow temporal breaks at different energy bands should be achromatic. Observations in the Swift era have revealed chromatic afterglow behaviors at least in some GRBs, casting doubts on the EFS origin of GRB afterglows. In this paper, we perform a systematic study to address the question: how bad/good are the external forward shock models? Our sample includes 85 GRBs well-monitored X-ray and optical lightcurves. Based on how well the data abide by the EFS models, we categorize them as: Gold sample: (Grade I and II) include 45/85 GRBs. They show evidence of, or are consistent with having, an achromatic break. The temporal/spectral behaviors in each afterglow segment are consistent with the predictions (closure relations) of the EFS models. Silver sample: (Grade III and IV) include 37/85 GRBs. They are also consistent with having an achromatic break, even though one or more afterglow segments do not comply with the closure relations. Bad sample: (Grade V), 3/85 shows direct evidence of chromatic behaviors, suggesting that the EFS models are inconsistent with the data. These are included in the Bad sample. We further perform statistical analyses of various observational properties ($\alpha$, $\beta$, $t_b$ and model parameters (energy injection index q, p, $\theta_j$, $\eta_\gamma$, etc) of the GRBs in the Gold Sample, and derive constraints on the magnetization parameter $\epsilon_B$ in the EFS. Overall, we conclude that the simplest EFS models can account for the multi-wavelength afterglow data of at least half of the GRBs. When more advanced modeling (e.g., long-lasting reverse shock, structured jets) is invoked, up to $>90 \%$ of the afterglows may be interpreted within the framework of the ESF models.

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