GeV-TeV and X-ray flares from gamma-ray bursts

Research paper by Xiang-Yu Wang, Zhuo Li, Peter Meszaros

Indexed on: 13 Mar '06Published on: 13 Mar '06Published in: Astrophysics


The recent detection of delayed X-ray flares during the afterglow phase of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) suggests an inner-engine origin, at radii inside the deceleration radius characterizing the beginning of the forward shock afterglow emission. Given the observed temporal overlapping between the flares and afterglows, there must be inverse Compton (IC) emission arising from such flare photons scattered by forward shock afterglow electrons. We find that this IC emission produces GeV-TeV flares, which may be detected by GLAST and ground-based TeV telescopes. We speculate that this kind of emission may already have been detected by EGRET from a very strong burst--GRB940217. The enhanced cooling of the forward shock electrons by the X-ray flare photons may suppress the synchrotron emission of the afterglows during the flare period. The detection of GeV-TeV flares combined with low energy observations may help to constrain the poorly known magnetic field in afterglow shocks. We also consider the self-IC emission in the context of internal-shock and external-shock models for X-ray flares. The emission above GeV from internal shocks is low, while the external shock model can also produce GeV-TeV flares, but with a different temporal behavior from that caused by IC scattering of flare photons by afterglow electrons. This suggests a useful approach for distinguishing whether X-ray flares originate from late central engine activity or from external shocks.