Radio flares from gamma-ray bursts

D. Kopac, C. G. Mundell, S. Kobayashi, F. J. Virgili, Roger Harrison, J. Japelj, C. Guidorzi, A. Melandri, A. Gomboc

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We present predictions of centimeter and millimeter radio emission from reverse shocks in the early afterglows of gamma-ray bursts with the goal of determining their detectability with current and future radio facilities. Using a range of GRB properties, such as peak optical brightness and time, isotropic equivalent gamma-ray energy and redshift, we simulate radio light curves in a framework generalized for any circumburst medium structure and including a parametrization of the shell thickness regime that is more realistic than the simple assumption of thick- or thin-shell approximations. Building on earlier work by Mundell et al. (2007) and Melandri et al. (2010) in which the typical frequency of the reverse shock was suggested to lie at radio, rather than optical wavelengths at early times, we show that the brightest and most distinct reverse-shock radio signatures are detectable up to 0.1 -- 1 day after the burst, emphasizing the need for rapid radio follow-up. Detection is easier for bursts with later optical peaks, high isotropic energies, lower circumburst medium densities, and at observing frequencies that are less prone to synchrotron self-absorption effects - typically above a few GHz. Given recent detections of polarized prompt gamma-ray and optical reverse-shock emission, we suggest that detection of polarized radio/mm emission will unambiguously confirm the presence of low-frequency reverse shocks at early time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number179
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date29 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2015


  • astro-ph.HE


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