Detectability of GRB Iron Lines by Swift, Chandra and XMM

Research paper by L. J. Gou, P. Meszaros, T. R. Kallman

Indexed on: 18 Jan '05Published on: 18 Jan '05Published in: Astrophysics


The rapid acquisition of positions by the upcoming Swift satellite will allow the monitoring for X-ray lines in GRB afterglows at much earlier epochs than was previously feasible. We calculate the possible significance levels of iron line detections as a function of source redshift and observing time after the trigger, for the Swift XRT, Chandra ACIS and XMM Epic detectors. For bursts with standard luminosities, decay rates and equivalent widths of 1 keV assumed constant starting at early source-frame epochs, Swift may be able to detect lines up to z~1.5 with a significance of better than 3 sigma for times up to 10^4 s. The same lines would be detectable with better than 4 sigma significance at z up to 6 by Chandra, and up to 8 by XMM, for times of up to 10^5 s. For similar bursts with a variable equivalent width peaking at 1 keV between 0.5 and 1 days in the source frame, Swift achieves the same significance level for z~1 at t~1 day, while Chandra reaches the previous detection significances around t~ 1-2 days for z~ 2-4, i.e. the line is detectable near the peak equivalent width times, and undetectable at earlier or later times. For afterglows in the upper range of initial X-ray luminosites afterglows, which may also be typical of pop. III bursts, similar significance levels are obtained out to substantially higher redshifts. A distinction between broad and narrow lines to better than 3 sigma is possible with Chandra and XMM out to z~2 and ~6.5, respectively, while Swift can do so up to z~1, for standard burst parameters. A distinction between different energy centroid lines of 6.4 keV vs. 6.7 KeV (or 6.7 keV vs. Cobalt 7.2 keV) is possible up to z~0.6, 1.2, and 2 (z~ 1, 5, 7.5), with Swift,Chandra, and XMM respectively.