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Gamma-ray Bursts

  • Alberto J. Castro-Tirado (a1)

Summary

Since their discovery in 1967 Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have been puzzling to astrophysicists. With the advent of a new generation of X–ray satellites in the late 90’s, it was possible to carry out deep multi-wavelength observations of the counterparts associated with the long duration GRBs class just within a few hours of occurrence, thanks to the observation of the fading X-ray emission that follows the more energetic gamma-ray photons once the GRB event has ended. The fact that this emission (the afterglow) extends at longer wavelengths, led to the discovery of optical/IR/radio counterparts in 1997-2003, greatly improving our understanding of these sources. The classical, long duration GRBs, have been observed to originate at cosmological distances in a range of redshifts with 0.1685 ≤ z ≤ 4.50 implying energy releases of ~ 1051 ergs. The recent results on GRB 021004 and GRB 030329 confirm that the central engines that power these extraordinary events are due to be collapse of massive stars rather than the merging of compact objects as previously also suggested. Short GRBs still remain a mystery as no counterparts have been detected so far.

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