We report the simultaneous observations of the prompt emission in the gamma-ray and hard X-ray bands by the Swift BAT and the Konus-Wind instruments of the short-hard burst, GRB 060313. The observations reveal multiple peaks in both the gamma-ray and hard X-ray bands suggesting a highly variable outflow from the central explosion. We also describe the early-time observations of the X-ray and UV/optical afterglows by the Swift XRT and UVOT instruments. The combination of the X-ray and UV/optical observations provides the most comprehensive light curves to date of a short-hard burst at such an early epoch. The afterglows exhibit complex structure with different decay indices and flaring. This behavior can be explained by the combination of a structured jet, radiative loss of energy, and decreasing microphysics parameters occurring in a circumburst medium with densities varying by a factor of approximately two on a length scale of 1017 cm. These density variations are normally associated with the environment of a massive star and inhomogeneities in its windy medium. However, the mean density of the observed medium (n ~ 10-4 cm3) is much less than that expected for a massive star. Although the collapse of a massive star as the origin of GRB 060313 is unlikely, the merger of a compact binary also poses problems for explaining the behavior of this burst. Two possible suggestions for explaining this scenario are that some short bursts may arise from a mechanism that does not invoke the conventional compact binary model, or that soft late-time central engine activity is producing UV/optical but no X-ray flaring.
- Gamma Rays: Bursts, Astrophysics