Self-similar relativistic blast waves with energy injection

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A sufficiently powerful astrophysical source with power-law luminosity in time will give rise to a self-similar relativistic blast wave with a reverse shock travelling into the ejecta and a forward shock moving into the surrounding medium. Once energy injection ceases and the last energy is delivered to the shock front, the blast wave will transit into another self-similar stage depending only on the total amount of energy injected. I describe the effect of limited duration energy injection into environments with density depending on radius as a power law, emphasizing optical/X-ray Gamma-ray Burst afterglows as applications. The blast wave during injection is treated analytically, the transition following last energy injection with one-dimensional simulations. Flux equations for synchrotron emission from the forward and reverse shock regions are provided. The reverse shock emission can easily dominate, especially with different magnetizations for both regions. Reverse shock emission is shown to support both the reported X-ray and optical correlations between afterglow plateau duration and end time flux, independently of the luminosity power-law slope. The model is demonstrated by application to bursts 120521A and 090515, and can accommodate their steep post-plateau light-curve slopes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3495-3510
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2014


  • plasmas, radiation mechanisms: non-thermal, shock waves, hydrodynamics, gamma-ray burst: general


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