Authors: Nicholas Stone, Abraham Loeb, Edo Berger
Date: 18 Sep 2012
Abstract: The precise origin of short gamma ray bursts (SGRBs) remains an important open question in relativistic astrophysics. Increasingly, observational evidence suggests the merger of a binary compact object system as the source for most SGRBs, but it is currently unclear how to distinguish observationally between a binary neutron star progenitor and a black hole-neutron star progenitor. We suggest the quasi-periodic signal of jet precession as an observational signature of SGRBs originating in mixed binary systems, and quantify both the fraction of mixed binaries capable of producing SGRBs, and the distributions of precession amplitudes and periods. The difficulty inherent in disrupting a neutron star outside the horizon of a stellar-mass black hole biases the jet precession signal towards low amplitude and high frequency. Precession periods of ~ 0.01-0.1 s and disk-BH spin misalignments ~10 degrees are generally expected, although sufficiently high viscosity may prevent the accumulation of multiple precession periods during the SGRB. The precessing jet will naturally cover a larger solid angle in the sky than would standard SGRB jets, enhancing observability for both prompt emission and optical afterglows.
© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29
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