The heaviest elements in the universe are synthesized through rapid neutron capture (
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have historically been divided into two classes. Short-duration GRBs are associated with binary neutron star mergers (NSMs), while long-duration bursts are connected to a subset of core-collapse supernovae (SNe). GRB 211211A recently made headlines as the first long-duration burst purportedly generated by an NSM. The evidence for an NSM origin was excess optical and near-infrared emission consistent with the kilonova observed after the gravitational-wave-detected NSM GW170817. Kilonovae derive their unique electromagnetic signatures from the properties of the heavy elements synthesized by rapid neutron capture (the
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- The Astrophysical Journal
- Medium: X Size: Article No. 55
- ["Article No. 55"]
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
The heaviest elements in the universe are synthesized through rapid neutron capture (
r-process) in extremely neutron-rich outflows. Neutron star mergers were established as an important r-process source through the multimessenger observation of GW170817. Collapsars were also proposed as a potentially major source of heavy elements; however, this is difficult to probe through optical observations due to contamination by other emission mechanisms. Here we present observational constraints on r-process nucleosynthesis by collapsars based on radio follow-up observations of nearby long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). We make the hypothesis that late-time radio emission arises from the collapsar wind ejecta responsible for forging r-process elements, and consider the constraints that can be set on this scenario using radio observations of a sample of Swift/Burst Alert Telescope GRBs located within 2 Gpc. No radio counterpart was identified in excess of the radio afterglow of the GRBs in our sample. This gives the strictest limit to the collapsar r-process contribution of ≲0.2 M⊙for GRB 060505 and GRB 05826, under the models we considered. Our results additionally constrain energy injection by a long-lived neutron star remnant in some of the considered GRBs. While our results are in tension with collapsars being the majority of r-process production sites, the ejecta mass and velocity profile of collapsar winds, and the emission parameters, are not yet well modeled. As such, our results are currently subject to large uncertainties, but further theoretical work could greatly improve them.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are among the brightest and most energetic events in the universe. The duration and hardness distribution of GRBs has two clusters, now understood to reflect (at least) two different progenitors. Short-hard GRBs (SGRBs; T90 <2 s) arise from compact binary mergers, while long-soft GRBs (LGRBs; T90 >2 s) have been attributed to the collapse of peculiar massive stars (collapsars). The discovery of SN 1998bw/GRB 980425 marked the first association of a LGRB with a collapsar and AT 2017gfo/GRB 170817A/GW170817 marked the first association of a SGRB with a binary neutron star merger, producing also gravitational wave (GW). Here, we present the discovery of ZTF20abwysqy (AT2020scz), a fast-fading optical transient in the Fermi Satellite and the InterPlanetary Network (IPN) localization regions of GRB 200826A; X-ray and radio emission further confirm that this is the afterglow. Follow-up imaging (at rest-frame 16.5 days) reveals excess emission above the afterglow that cannot be explained as an underlying kilonova (KN), but is consistent with being the supernova (SN). Despite the GRB duration being short (rest-frame T90 of 0.65 s), our panchromatic follow-up data confirms a collapsar origin. GRB 200826A is the shortest LGRB found with an associated collapsar; it appears to sit on the brink between a successful and a failed collapsar. Our discovery is consistent with the hypothesis that most collapsars fail to produce ultra-relativistic jets.more » « less
The core collapse of rapidly rotating massive ∼ 10
M⊙stars (“collapsars”), and the resulting formation of hyperaccreting black holes, comprise a leading model for the central engines of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and promising sources of r-process nucleosynthesis. Here, we explore the signatures of collapsars from progenitors with helium cores ≳ 130 M⊙above the pair-instability mass gap. While the rapid collapse to a black hole likely precludes prompt explosions in these systems, we demonstrate that disk outflows can generate a large quantity (up to ≳ 50 M⊙) of ejecta, comprised of ≳ 5–10 M⊙in r-process elements and ∼ 0.1–1 M⊙of56Ni, expanding at velocities ∼0.1 c. Radioactive heating of the disk wind ejecta powers an optical/IR transient, with a characteristic luminosity ∼ 1042erg s−1and a spectral peak in the near-IR (due to the high optical/UV opacities of lanthanide elements), similar to kilonovae from neutron star mergers, but with longer durations ≳1 month. These “super-kilonovae” (superKNe) herald the birth of massive black holes ≳ 60 M⊙, which—as a result of disk wind mass loss—can populate the pair-instability mass gap “from above,” and could potentially create the binary components of GW190521. SuperKNe could be discovered via wide-field surveys, such as those planned with the Roman Space Telescope, or via late-time IR follow-up observations of extremely energetic GRBs. Multiband gravitational waves of ∼ 0.1–50 Hz from nonaxisymmetric instabilities in self-gravitating massive collapsar disks are potentially detectable by proposed observatories out to hundreds of Mpc; in contrast to the “chirp” from binary mergers, the collapsar gravitational-wave signal decreases in frequency as the disk radius grows (“sad trombone”).
Although GRB 211211A is one of the closest gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), its classification is challenging because of its partially inconclusive electromagnetic signatures. In this paper, we investigate four astrophysical scenarios as possible progenitors for GRB 211211A: a binary neutron star merger, a black hole–neutron star merger, a core-collapse supernova, and an r-process enriched core collapse of a rapidly rotating massive star (a collapsar). We perform a large set of Bayesian multiwavelength analyses based on different models describing these scenarios and priors to investigate which astrophysical scenarios and processes might be related to GRB 211211A. Our analysis supports previous studies in which the presence of an additional component, likely related to r-process nucleosynthesis, is required to explain the observed light curves of GRB 211211A, as it cannot be explained solely as a GRB afterglow. Fixing the distance to about $350~\rm Mpc$, namely the distance of the possible host galaxy SDSS J140910.47+275320.8, we find a statistical preference for a binary neutron star merger scenario.
Despite recent progress, the astrophysical channels responsible for rapid neutron capture (
r-process) nucleosynthesis remain an unsettled question. Observations of the kilonova following the gravitational-wave-detected neutron star merger GW170817 established mergers as one site of the r-process, but additional sources may be needed to fully explain r-process enrichment in the universe. One intriguing possibility is that rapidly rotating massive stars undergoing core collapse launch r-process-rich outflows off the accretion disks formed from their infalling matter. In this scenario, r-process winds are one component of the supernova (SN) ejecta produced by “collapsar” explosions. We present the first systematic study of the effects of r-process enrichment on the emission from collapsar-generated SNe. We semianalytically model r-process SN emission from explosion out to late times and determine its distinguishing features. The ease with which r-process SNe can be identified depends on how effectively wind material mixes into the initially r-process-free outer layers of the ejecta. In many cases, enrichment produces a near-infrared (NIR) excess that can be detected within ∼75 days of explosion. We also discuss optimal targets and observing strategies for testing the r-process collapsar theory, and find that frequent monitoring of optical and NIR emission from high-velocity SNe in the first few months after explosion offers a reasonable chance of success while respecting finite observing resources. Such early identification of r-process collapsar candidates also lays the foundation for nebular-phase spectroscopic follow-up in the NIR and mid-infrared, for example, with the James Webb Space Telescope.