On the external shock synchrotron model for gamma-ray bursts' gev emission

Tsvi Piran*, Ehud Nakar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The dominant component of the GeV gamma-ray burst emission detected by the Large Area Telescope begins after the prompt soft (sub-MeV) gamma rays and lasts longer. This has led to the intriguing suggestion that the GeV emission is generated via synchrotron emission of the external shock. Moreover, the limits on the MeV afterglow emission lead to the suggestion that at least in bright GeV bursts the field is not amplified beyond compression in the shock.We show here that considerations of confinement (within the decelerating shock), efficiency, and cooling of the emitting electrons constrain, within this model, the magnetic fields that arise in both the upstream (unshocked circumburst) and downstream (shocked circumburst) regions, allowing us to put direct limits on their values. The well-known limit on the maximal synchrotron emission, when combined with the blast wave evolution, implies that late photons (arriving more than ∼100 s after the burst) with energies higher than ∼10 GeV do not arise naturally from an external shock synchrotron and almost certainly have a different origin. Finally, even a modest seed flux (a few mJy) in IR-optical would quench, via Inverse Compton cooling, the GeV emission unless the magnetic field is significantly amplified behind the shock. An observation of a burst with simultaneous IR-optical and GeV emission will rule out this model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L63-L67
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2010


  • Gamma-ray burst
  • General


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