Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B

Eleanora Troja, V. M. Lipunov, C. G. Mundell, R N Butler, A. M. Watson, S. Kobayashi, S. B. Cenko, F. E. Marshall, R Ricci, A. S. Fruchter, M. H. Wieringa, E. S. Gorbovskoy, V. Kornilov, A. Kutyrev, W. H. Lee, V. Toy, N. V. Tyurina, N. M. Budnev, D. A. H. Buckley, J. González & 11 others O. Gress, A. Horesh, M. I. Panasyuk, J. X. Prochaska, E. Ramirez-ruiz, R. Rebolo Lopez, M. G. Richer, C. G. Román-zúñiga, M. Serra-Ricart, V. Yurkov, N. Gehrels

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Abstract

Newly formed black holes of stellar mass launch collimated outflows (jets) of ionized matter that approach the speed of light. These outflows power prompt, brief and intense flashes of γ-rays known as γ-ray bursts (GRBs), followed by longer-lived afterglow radiation that is detected across the electromagnetic spectrum. Measuring the polarization of the observed GRB radiation provides a direct probe of the magnetic fields in the collimated jets. Rapid-response polarimetric observations of newly discovered bursts have probed the initial afterglow phase1, 2, 3, and show that, minutes after the prompt emission has ended, the degree of linear polarization can be as high as 30 per cent—consistent with the idea that a stable, globally ordered magnetic field permeates the jet at large distances from the central source3. By contrast, optical4, 5, 6 and γ-ray7, 8, 9 observations during the prompt phase have led to discordant and often controversial10, 11, 12 results, and no definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the origin of the prompt radiation or the configuration of the magnetic field. Here we report the detection of substantial (8.3 ± 0.8 per cent from our most conservative simulation), variable linear polarization of a prompt optical flash that accompanied the extremely energetic and long-lived prompt γ-ray emission from GRB 160625B. Our measurements probe the structure of the magnetic field at an early stage of the jet, closer to its central black hole, and show that the prompt phase is produced via fast-cooling synchrotron radiation in a large-scale magnetic field that is advected from the black hole and distorted by dissipation processes within the jet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-427
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume547
Issue number7664
Early online date26 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2017

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linear polarization
flash
magnetic fields
gamma rays
afterglows
radiation
electromagnetic spectra
probes
stellar mass
gamma ray bursts
bursts
synchrotron radiation
dissipation
cooling
polarization
configurations
simulation

Cite this

Troja, E., Lipunov, V. M., Mundell, C. G., Butler, R. N., Watson, A. M., Kobayashi, S., ... Gehrels, N. (2017). Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B. Nature, 547(7664), 425-427. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23289

Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B. / Troja, Eleanora; Lipunov, V. M.; Mundell, C. G.; Butler, R N; Watson, A. M.; Kobayashi, S.; Cenko, S. B.; Marshall, F. E.; Ricci, R; Fruchter, A. S.; Wieringa, M. H.; Gorbovskoy, E. S.; Kornilov, V.; Kutyrev, A.; Lee, W. H.; Toy, V.; Tyurina, N. V.; Budnev, N. M.; Buckley, D. A. H.; González, J.; Gress, O.; Horesh, A.; Panasyuk, M. I.; Prochaska, J. X.; Ramirez-ruiz, E.; Lopez, R. Rebolo; Richer, M. G.; Román-zúñiga, C. G.; Serra-Ricart, M.; Yurkov, V.; Gehrels, N.

In: Nature, Vol. 547, No. 7664, 27.07.2017, p. 425-427.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Troja, E, Lipunov, VM, Mundell, CG, Butler, RN, Watson, AM, Kobayashi, S, Cenko, SB, Marshall, FE, Ricci, R, Fruchter, AS, Wieringa, MH, Gorbovskoy, ES, Kornilov, V, Kutyrev, A, Lee, WH, Toy, V, Tyurina, NV, Budnev, NM, Buckley, DAH, González, J, Gress, O, Horesh, A, Panasyuk, MI, Prochaska, JX, Ramirez-ruiz, E, Lopez, RR, Richer, MG, Román-zúñiga, CG, Serra-Ricart, M, Yurkov, V & Gehrels, N 2017, 'Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B', Nature, vol. 547, no. 7664, pp. 425-427. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23289
Troja E, Lipunov VM, Mundell CG, Butler RN, Watson AM, Kobayashi S et al. Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B. Nature. 2017 Jul 27;547(7664):425-427. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23289
Troja, Eleanora ; Lipunov, V. M. ; Mundell, C. G. ; Butler, R N ; Watson, A. M. ; Kobayashi, S. ; Cenko, S. B. ; Marshall, F. E. ; Ricci, R ; Fruchter, A. S. ; Wieringa, M. H. ; Gorbovskoy, E. S. ; Kornilov, V. ; Kutyrev, A. ; Lee, W. H. ; Toy, V. ; Tyurina, N. V. ; Budnev, N. M. ; Buckley, D. A. H. ; González, J. ; Gress, O. ; Horesh, A. ; Panasyuk, M. I. ; Prochaska, J. X. ; Ramirez-ruiz, E. ; Lopez, R. Rebolo ; Richer, M. G. ; Román-zúñiga, C. G. ; Serra-Ricart, M. ; Yurkov, V. ; Gehrels, N. / Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B. In: Nature. 2017 ; Vol. 547, No. 7664. pp. 425-427.
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title = "Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B",
abstract = "Newly formed black holes of stellar mass launch collimated outflows (jets) of ionized matter that approach the speed of light. These outflows power prompt, brief and intense flashes of γ-rays known as γ-ray bursts (GRBs), followed by longer-lived afterglow radiation that is detected across the electromagnetic spectrum. Measuring the polarization of the observed GRB radiation provides a direct probe of the magnetic fields in the collimated jets. Rapid-response polarimetric observations of newly discovered bursts have probed the initial afterglow phase1, 2, 3, and show that, minutes after the prompt emission has ended, the degree of linear polarization can be as high as 30 per cent—consistent with the idea that a stable, globally ordered magnetic field permeates the jet at large distances from the central source3. By contrast, optical4, 5, 6 and γ-ray7, 8, 9 observations during the prompt phase have led to discordant and often controversial10, 11, 12 results, and no definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the origin of the prompt radiation or the configuration of the magnetic field. Here we report the detection of substantial (8.3 ± 0.8 per cent from our most conservative simulation), variable linear polarization of a prompt optical flash that accompanied the extremely energetic and long-lived prompt γ-ray emission from GRB 160625B. Our measurements probe the structure of the magnetic field at an early stage of the jet, closer to its central black hole, and show that the prompt phase is produced via fast-cooling synchrotron radiation in a large-scale magnetic field that is advected from the black hole and distorted by dissipation processes within the jet.",
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T1 - Significant and variable linear polarization during the prompt optical flash of GRB 160625B

AU - Troja, Eleanora

AU - Lipunov, V. M.

AU - Mundell, C. G.

AU - Butler, R N

AU - Watson, A. M.

AU - Kobayashi, S.

AU - Cenko, S. B.

AU - Marshall, F. E.

AU - Ricci, R

AU - Fruchter, A. S.

AU - Wieringa, M. H.

AU - Gorbovskoy, E. S.

AU - Kornilov, V.

AU - Kutyrev, A.

AU - Lee, W. H.

AU - Toy, V.

AU - Tyurina, N. V.

AU - Budnev, N. M.

AU - Buckley, D. A. H.

AU - González, J.

AU - Gress, O.

AU - Horesh, A.

AU - Panasyuk, M. I.

AU - Prochaska, J. X.

AU - Ramirez-ruiz, E.

AU - Lopez, R. Rebolo

AU - Richer, M. G.

AU - Román-zúñiga, C. G.

AU - Serra-Ricart, M.

AU - Yurkov, V.

AU - Gehrels, N.

PY - 2017/7/27

Y1 - 2017/7/27

N2 - Newly formed black holes of stellar mass launch collimated outflows (jets) of ionized matter that approach the speed of light. These outflows power prompt, brief and intense flashes of γ-rays known as γ-ray bursts (GRBs), followed by longer-lived afterglow radiation that is detected across the electromagnetic spectrum. Measuring the polarization of the observed GRB radiation provides a direct probe of the magnetic fields in the collimated jets. Rapid-response polarimetric observations of newly discovered bursts have probed the initial afterglow phase1, 2, 3, and show that, minutes after the prompt emission has ended, the degree of linear polarization can be as high as 30 per cent—consistent with the idea that a stable, globally ordered magnetic field permeates the jet at large distances from the central source3. By contrast, optical4, 5, 6 and γ-ray7, 8, 9 observations during the prompt phase have led to discordant and often controversial10, 11, 12 results, and no definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the origin of the prompt radiation or the configuration of the magnetic field. Here we report the detection of substantial (8.3 ± 0.8 per cent from our most conservative simulation), variable linear polarization of a prompt optical flash that accompanied the extremely energetic and long-lived prompt γ-ray emission from GRB 160625B. Our measurements probe the structure of the magnetic field at an early stage of the jet, closer to its central black hole, and show that the prompt phase is produced via fast-cooling synchrotron radiation in a large-scale magnetic field that is advected from the black hole and distorted by dissipation processes within the jet.

AB - Newly formed black holes of stellar mass launch collimated outflows (jets) of ionized matter that approach the speed of light. These outflows power prompt, brief and intense flashes of γ-rays known as γ-ray bursts (GRBs), followed by longer-lived afterglow radiation that is detected across the electromagnetic spectrum. Measuring the polarization of the observed GRB radiation provides a direct probe of the magnetic fields in the collimated jets. Rapid-response polarimetric observations of newly discovered bursts have probed the initial afterglow phase1, 2, 3, and show that, minutes after the prompt emission has ended, the degree of linear polarization can be as high as 30 per cent—consistent with the idea that a stable, globally ordered magnetic field permeates the jet at large distances from the central source3. By contrast, optical4, 5, 6 and γ-ray7, 8, 9 observations during the prompt phase have led to discordant and often controversial10, 11, 12 results, and no definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the origin of the prompt radiation or the configuration of the magnetic field. Here we report the detection of substantial (8.3 ± 0.8 per cent from our most conservative simulation), variable linear polarization of a prompt optical flash that accompanied the extremely energetic and long-lived prompt γ-ray emission from GRB 160625B. Our measurements probe the structure of the magnetic field at an early stage of the jet, closer to its central black hole, and show that the prompt phase is produced via fast-cooling synchrotron radiation in a large-scale magnetic field that is advected from the black hole and distorted by dissipation processes within the jet.

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