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Title: What determines the structure of short gamma-ray burst jets?
ABSTRACT The discovery of GRB 170817A, the first unambiguous off-axis short gamma-ray burst (sGRB) arising from a neutron star merger, has challenged our understanding of the angular structure of relativistic jets. Studies of the jet propagation usually assume that the jet is ejected from the central engine with a top-hat structure and its final structure, which determines the observed light curve and spectra, is primarily regulated by the interaction with the nearby environment. However, jets are expected to be produced with a structure that is more complex than a simple top-hat, as shown by global accretion simulations. We present numerical simulations of sGRBs launched with a wide range of initial structures, durations, and luminosities. We follow the jet interaction with the merger remnant wind and compute its final structure at distances ≳1011 cm from the central engine. We show that the final jet structure, as well as the resulting afterglow emission, depends strongly on the initial structure of the jet, its luminosity, and duration. While the initial structure of the jet is preserved for long-lasting sGRBs, it is strongly modified for jets barely making their way through the wind. This illustrates the importance of combining the results of global simulations with propagation studies in order to better predict the expected afterglow signatures from neutron star mergers. Structured jets provide a reasonable description of the GRB 170817A afterglow emission with an off-axis angle θobs ≈ 22.5°.  more » « less
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
4363 to 4371
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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