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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: August 2009

38 - The diversity of cosmic explosions: Gamma-Ray Bursts and Type Ib/c supernovae

Summary

Abstract

The death of massive stars and the processes which govern the formation of compact remnants are not fully understood. Observationally, this problem may be addressed by studying different classes of cosmic explosions and their energy sources. Here we discuss recent results on the energetics of γ-ray bursts (GRBs) and Type Ib/c Supernovae (SNe Ib/c). In particular, radio observations of GRB 030329, which allow us to undertake calorimetry of the explosion, reveal that some GRBs are dominated by mildly relativistic ejecta such that the total explosive yield of GRBs is nearly constant, while the ultra-relativistic output varies considerably. On the other hand, SNe Ib/c exhibit a wide diversity in the energy contained in fast ejecta, but none of those observed to date (with the exception of SN 1998bw) produced relativistic ejecta. We therefore place a firm limit of 3% on the fraction of SNe Ib/c that could have given rise to a GRB. Thus, there appears to be clear dichotomy between hydrodynamic (SNe) and engine-driven (GRBs) explosions.

The death of massive stars

The death of massive stars (M ≳ 8M) is a chapter of astronomy that is still being written. Recent advances in modeling suggests that a great diversity can be expected. Indeed, such diversity has been observed in the neutron star remnants: radio pulsars, AXPs, and SGRs. We know relatively little about the formation of black holes.

The compact objects form following the collapse of the progenitor core.

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