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Relativistic Jets from Compact Binary Mergers as Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Sources

Lamb, GP (2018) Relativistic Jets from Compact Binary Mergers as Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Sources. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The advent of gravitational wave (GW) astronomy has provided a new window through which to view and understand the Universe. To fully exploit the potential of GW astronomy, an understanding of all the potential electromagnetic counterparts to a gravitational wave detected source will help maximise the science returns. Here I present a study of the electromagnetic emission from relativistic jets that accompany the merger of binary neutron stars or black hole-neutron star systems. These counterparts provide a probe for the structure and dynamics of these relativistic outflows. Binary neutron star, or neutron star-black hole, mergers are thought to be the dominant progenitor of short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Here we investigate the possibility that there is a hidden population of low-Lorentz factor jets resulting in failed GRBs, on-axis orphan afterglows, and what kind of counterparts can be expected given a merger-jet population dominated by these failed-GRB jets. I find that for GW detected mergers, ∼ 80% of the population of on-axis events may result in a failed GRB afterglow. The afterglow of a failed GRB is characterised by the lack of any prompt emission; where the γ-rays are emitted within an optically thick region of the low-Lorentz factor (Γ) outflow and significant suppression via pair production and a high opacity results in the photons coupled to the pair plasma. This plasma will undergo adiabatic expansion, and the photons will decouple at the photospheric radius. The energy in the prompt photons, for a sufficiently low-Γ outflow, will have been significantly suppressed. GW detected mergers have a Malmquist bias towards on-axis events (i.e. the rotational axis of the system), where the peak of the probability distribution is an inclination ∼ 30⁰. If the jets from these mergers have an intrinsic structure out to wider angles, then the majority of mergers will be accompanied by electromagnetic counterparts from these various jet structures. By making some simple assumptions about the energetic structure of a jet outside of a bright core region, the various temporal features that result from a given jet structure can be predicted. Where the population of merger jets is dominated by a single structure model, I show the expected fractions of optical counterparts brighter than m_AB = 21. On 17 August 2017, the Light Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in collaboration with Virgo detected the merger of a binary neutron star system. Various electromagnetic counterparts were detected: the GRB 170817A by Fermi/GBM and INTEGRAL; an optical, blue to red, macro/kilo-nova from ∼ 1/2 day post merger to ∼ 5 − 10 days; and a brightening radio, and X-ray counterpart from ∼ 10 days. Optical detection of this counterpart at a magnitude ∼ 26 was made at ∼ 100 days post-merger. Analysis of this counterpart is consistent with the afterglow of a Gaussian structured jet viewed at the system inclination, ∼ 18 ± 8⁰. If all short GRB jets have a similar jet structure, then the rates of orphan afterglows in deep drilling blind surveys e.g. the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), will be higher than those expected from a homogeneous, or ‘top-hat’ jet, population. The rates for the various jet structures for orphan afterglows from mergers are discussed, showing that for a population of failed GRBs, or an intrinsic Gaussian structure, an excess in the orphan rate may be apparent. Understanding the dynamics and structure for the jets from black-hole systems born at the merger of a compact binary can help give clues as to the nature of jets from black holes on all scales. As an aside, I show empirically that regardless of black hole mass or system phenomenology, the relativistic jets from such systems share a universal scaling for the jet power and emitted γ-ray luminosity. This scaling could be due to the similar efficiencies of various processes, or alternatively, the scaling may be able to give insights into the emission and physical processes that are responsible for high-energy photons from these outflows. GW astronomy offers a probe of the most extreme relativistic outflows in the Universe, GRBs. The predicted electromagnetic counterparts from these outflows, in association with GW detections, provides a way to probe the Lorentz-factor distribution for merger-jets. Additionally, the phenomenological shape of the afterglows, at various inclinations, gives an indication of the intrinsic structure of these jets. An understanding of these dynamical and structural qualities can be used to constrain the parent population, merger rates, and binary evolution models for compact binary systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: High Energy Astrophysics; Gamma-ray Bursts; Gravitational Waves; Relativistic Jets
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2018 09:12
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 13:57
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008466
Supervisors: Kobayashi, S and JAMES, P
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8466
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