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Short gamma-ray bursts from binary neutron star mergers: the time-reversal scenario

  • Ciolfi, Riccardo
  • Siegel, Daniel M.
Publication Date
May 06, 2015
Submission Date
May 06, 2015
arXiv ID: 1505.01420
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After decades of observations the physical mechanisms that generate short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) still remain unclear. Observational evidence provides support to the idea that SGRBs originate from the merger of compact binaries, consisting of two neutron stars (NSs) or a NS and a black hole (BH). Theoretical models and numerical simulations seem to converge to an explanation in which the central engine of SGRBs is given by a spinning BH surrounded by a hot accretion torus. Such a BH-torus system can be formed in compact binary mergers and is able to launch a relativistic jet, which can then produce the SGRB. This basic scenario, however, has recently been challenged by Swift satellite observations, which have revealed long-lasting X-ray afterglows in association with a large fraction of SGRB events. The long durations of these afterglows (from minutes to several hours) cannot be explained by the $\sim\text{s}$ accretion timescale of the torus onto the BH, and, instead, suggest a long-lived NS as the persistent source of radiation. Yet, if the merger results in a massive NS the conditions to generate a relativistic jet and thus the prompt SGRB emission are hardly met. Here we consider an alternative scenario that can reconcile the two aspects and account for both the prompt and the X-ray afterglow emission. Implications for future observations, multi-messenger astronomy and for constraining NS properties are discussed, as well as potential challenges for the model.

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