Gamma-Ray Bursts are Observed Off-axis

Geoffrey Ryan, Hendrik van Eerten, Andrew MacFadyen, Bin-Bin Zhang

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We constrain the jet opening angle and, for the first time, the off-axis observer angle for gamma-ray bursts in the Swift-XRT catalog by using the ScaleFit package to fit afterglow light curves directly to hydrodynamic simulations. The ScaleFit model uses scaling relations in the hydrodynamic and radiation equations to compute synthetic light curves directly from a set of high-resolution two-dimensional relativistic blast wave simulations. The data sample consists of all Swift-XRT afterglows from 2005 to 2012 with sufficient coverage and a known redshift, 226 bursts in total. We find that the jet half-opening angle varies widely but is commonly less than 0.1 rad. The distribution of the electron spectral index is also broad, with a median at 2.30. We find the observer angle to have a median value of 0.57 of the jet opening angle over our sample, which has profound consequences for the predicted rate of observed jet breaks and affects the beaming-corrected total energies of gamma-ray bursts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2015


  • gamma-ray burst: general, hydrodynamics, methods: data analysis, shock waves


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