Analytic model for off-axis GRB afterglow images - geometry measurement and implications for measuring H0

Taya Govreen-Segal*, Ehud Nakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present an analytic model for measuring the jet core angle (θc) and viewing angle (θobs) of off-axis gamma-ray bursts independently of the jet angular structure outside of the core. We model the images of off-axis jets, and using this model, we show that θobs and θc can be measured using any two of the three following observables: the afterglow light curve, the flux-centroid motion, and the image width. The model is calibrated using 2D relativistic hydrodynamic simulations with a broad range of jet angular structures. We study the systematic errors due to the uncertainty in the jet structure and find that when using the light curve and centroid motion to determine θobs and θc, our formulae can be accurate to a level of 5-10 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. In light of the Hubble tension, the systematic error in cos θobs in GRBs originating in a binary compact object merger is of special interest. We find that the systematic uncertainty on the measurement of cos θobs due to the unknown jet structure is smaller than 1.5 per cent for well-observed events. A similar error is expected if the microphysical parameters evolve at a level that is not easily detected by the light curve. Our result implies that this type of systematic uncertainty will not prevent measurement of H0 to a level of 2 per cent with a sample of well-observed GW events with resolved afterglow image motion. Applying our model to the light curve and centroid motion observations of GW170817, we find (1σ) and.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-425
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


  • gamma-ray bursts
  • gravitational waves
  • neutron star mergers
  • radio continuum: transients
  • relativistic processes


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