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Title: Precise measurements of self-absorbed rising reverse shock emission from gamma-ray burst 221009A

The deaths of massive stars are sometimes accompanied by the launch of highly relativistic and collimated jets. If the jet is pointed towards Earth, we observe a ‘prompt’ gamma-ray burst due to internal shocks or magnetic reconnection events within the jet, followed by a long-lived broadband synchrotron afterglow as the jet interacts with the circumburst material. While there is solid observational evidence that emission from multiple shocks contributes to the afterglow signature, detailed studies of the reverse shock, which travels back into the explosion ejecta, are hampered by a lack of early-time observations, particularly in the radio band. We present rapid follow-up radio observations of the exceptionally bright gamma-ray burst GRB 221009A that reveal in detail, both temporally and in frequency space, an optically thick rising component from the reverse shock. From this, we are able to constrain the size, Lorentz factor and internal energy of the outflow while providing accurate predictions for the location of the peak frequency of the reverse shock in the first few hours after the burst. These observations challenge standard gamma-ray burst models describing reverse shock emission.

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Publisher / Repository:
Nature Astronomy
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Astronomy
Page Range / eLocation ID:
986 to 995
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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