Monte-Carlo simulations of relativistic radiation mediated shocks: I. photon rich regime

Research paper by Hirotaka Ito, Amir Levinson, Boris E. Stern, Shigehiro Nagataki

Indexed on: 26 Sep '17Published on: 26 Sep '17Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena


We explore the physics of relativistic radiation mediated shocks (RRMSs) in the regime where photon advection dominates over photon generation. For this purpose, a novel iterative method for deriving a self-consistent steady-state structure of RRMS is developed, based on a Monte-Carlo code that solves the transfer of photons subject to Compton scattering and pair production/annihilation. Systematic study is performed by imposing various upstream conditions which are characterized by the following three parameters: the photon-to-baryon inertia ratio $\xi_{u *}$, the photon-to-baryon number ratio $\tilde{n}$, and the shock Lorentz factor $\gamma_u$. We find that the properties of RRMSs vary considerably with these parameters. In particular, while a smooth decline in the velocity, accompanied by a gradual temperature increase is seen for $\xi_{u*} \gg 1$, an efficient bulk Comptonization, that leads to a heating precursor and a temperature peak just upstream of the shock, is found for $\xi_{u*} \lesssim 1$. As a consequence, a broad non-thermal spectrum is produced within the shock in the latter case. The generation of high energy photons through bulk Comptonization leads, in certain cases, to a copious production of pairs that provide the dominant opacity for Compton scattering. We also find that for certain upstream conditions a weak subshock, mediated by collective plasma process, appears within the flow. For a choice of parameters suitable to gamma-ray bursts, the radiation spectrum within the shock is found to be compatible with that of the prompt emission, suggesting that subphotospheric shocks may account for the observed non-thermal features.