skip to main content

Title: Bayesian model selection for GRB 211211A through multiwavelength analyses

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.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 3900-3911
["p. 3900-3911"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    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 (ther-process) following the merger. Recent simulations suggest that the “collapsar” SNe that trigger long GRBs may also producer-process elements. While observations of GRB 211211A and its afterglow rule out an SN typical of those that follow long GRBs, an unusual collapsar could explain both the duration of GRB 211211A and ther-process-powered excess in its afterglow. We use semianalytic radiation transport modeling to evaluate low-mass collapsars as the progenitors of GRB 211211A–like events. We compare a suite of collapsar models to the afterglow-subtracted emission that followed GRB 211211A, and find the best agreement for models with high kinetic energies and an unexpected pattern of56Ni enrichment. We discuss how core-collapse explosions could produce such ejecta, and how distinct our predictions are from those generated by more straightforward kilonova models. We also show that radio observations can distinguish between kilonovae and the more massive collapsar ejecta we consider here.

    more » « less

    Precursors have been observed seconds to minutes before some short gamma-ray bursts. While the precursor origins remain unknown, one explanation relies on the resonance of neutron star pulsational modes with the tidal forces during the inspiral phase of a compact binary merger. In this paper, we present a model for short gamma-ray burst precursors that relies on tidally resonant neutron star oceans. In this scenario, the onset of tidal resonance in the crust–ocean interface mode ignites the precursor flare, possibly through the interaction between the excited neutron star ocean and the surface magnetic fields. From just the precursor total energy, the time before the main event, and a detected quasi-periodic oscillation frequency, we may constrain the binary parameters and neutron star ocean properties. Our model can immediately distinguish neutron star–black hole mergers from binary neutron star mergers without gravitational wave detection. We apply our model to GRB 211211A, the recently detected long duration short gamma-ray burst with a quasi-periodic precursor, and explore the parameters of this system. The precursor of GRB 211211A is consistent with a tidally resonant neutron star ocean explanation that requires an extreme mass ratio neutron star–black hole merger and a high-mass neutron star. While difficult to reconcile with the main gamma-ray burst and associated kilonova, our results constrain the possible precursor mechanisms in this system. A systematic study of short gamma-ray burst precursors with the model presented here can test precursor origin and probe the possible connection between gamma-ray bursts and neutron star–black hole mergers.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are flashes of high-energy radiation arising from energetic cosmic explosions. Bursts of long (greater than two seconds) duration are produced by the core-collapse of massive stars 1 , and those of short (less than two seconds) duration by the merger of compact objects, such as two neutron stars 2 . A third class of events with hybrid high-energy properties was identified 3 , but never conclusively linked to a stellar progenitor. The lack of bright supernovae rules out typical core-collapse explosions 4–6 , but their distance scales prevent sensitive searches for direct signatures of a progenitor system. Only tentative evidence for a kilonova has been presented 7,8 . Here we report observations of the exceptionally bright GRB 211211A, which classify it as a hybrid event and constrain its distance scale to only 346 megaparsecs. Our measurements indicate that its lower-energy (from ultraviolet to near-infrared) counterpart is powered by a luminous (approximately 10 42  erg per second) kilonova possibly formed in the ejecta of a compact object merger. 
    more » « less

    Gamma-ray burst GRB 211211A may have been the result of a neutron star merger at ≈350 Mpc. However, none of the LIGO–Virgo detectors were operating at the time. We show that the gravitational-wave signal from a GRB 211211A-like binary neutron star inspiral in the next LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA observing run (O4) would be below the conventional detection threshold, however a coincident gamma-ray burst observation would provide necessary information to claim a statistically significant multimessenger observation. We calculate that with O4 sensitivity, approximately $11{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of gamma-ray bursts within 600 Mpc will produce a confident association between the gravitational-wave binary neutron star inspiral signature and the prompt gamma-ray signature. This corresponds to a coincident detection rate of $0.22^{+8.3}_{-0.22}\,\mathrm{yr^{-1}}$, where the uncertainties are the 90 per cent confidence intervals arising from uncertainties in the absolute merger rate, beaming and jet-launching fractions. These increase to approximately $34{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ and $0.71^{+26.8}_{-0.70}\,\mathrm{yr^{-1}}$ with proposed O5 sensitivity. We show that the above numbers do not depend significantly on the number of gravitational-wave observatories operating with the specific sensitivity. That is, the number of confident joint gamma-ray burst and gravitational-wave detections is only marginally improved with two or three detectors operating compared to a single detector. It is therefore worth considering whether one detector with sufficient sensitivity (post O4) should remain in sky-watch mode at all times to elucidate the true nature of GRB 211211A-like events, a proposal we discuss in detail.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    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 ther-process, but additional sources may be needed to fully explainr-process enrichment in the universe. One intriguing possibility is that rapidly rotating massive stars undergoing core collapse launchr-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 ofr-process enrichment on the emission from collapsar-generated SNe. We semianalytically modelr-process SN emission from explosion out to late times and determine its distinguishing features. The ease with whichr-process SNe can be identified depends on how effectively wind material mixes into the initiallyr-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 ther-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 ofr-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.

    more » « less