Jet or shock breakout? The low-luminosity GRB 060218

Christopher M. Irwin*, Roger A. Chevalier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider a model for the low-luminosity gamma-ray burst GRB 060218 that plausibly accounts for multiwavelength observations to day 20. The model components are: (1) a long-lived (tj ~ 3000 s) central engine and accompanying low-luminosity (Lj ~ 1047 erg s-1), mildly relativistic (γ ~ 10) jet; (2) a low-mass (~4 × 10-3 M) envelope surrounding the progenitor star; and (3) a modest amount of dust (AV ~ 0.1 mag) in the circumstellar or interstellar environment. Blackbody emission from the transparency radius in a low-power jet outflow can fit the prompt thermal X-ray emission, and the non-thermal X-rays and gamma-rays may be produced via Compton scattering of thermal photons from hot leptons in the jet interior or the external shocks. The later mildly relativistic phase of this outflow can produce the radio emission via synchrotron radiation from the forward shock. Meanwhile, interaction of the associated SN 2006aj with a circumstellar envelope extending to ~1013 cm can explain the early optical emission. The X-ray afterglow can be interpreted as a light echo of the prompt emission from dust at ~30 pc. Our model is a plausible alternative to that of Nakar, who recently proposed shock breakout of a jet smothered by an extended envelope as the source of prompt emission. Both our results and Nakar's suggest that bursts such as GRB 060218 may originate from unusual progenitors with extended circumstellar envelopes, and that a jet is necessary to decouple the prompt emission from the supernova.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1680-1704
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • circumstellar matter
  • hydrodynamics
  • shock waves
  • stars: mass-loss


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