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Accession Number N20120011805
Title Unusual Stellar Death on Christmas Day.
Publication Date Oct 2011
Media Count 42p
Personal Author A. De Ugarte Postigo A. Llorente C. Kouveliotou C. C. Thone C. L. Fryer D. A. Kann D. A. Perley E. Sonbas H. Krimm H. T. Janka J. Cummings J. Gorosabel J. L. Racusin K. Bundy K. L. Page L. Hernandez Garcia M. De Pasquale M. Im M. A. Aloy M. H. Siegel P. Mimica S. Guziy S. R. Oates S. T. Holland W. K. Park
Abstract Long Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) are the most dramatic examples of massive stellar deaths, usually associated with supernovae. They release ultra-relativistic jets producing non-thermal emission through synchrotron radiation as they interact with the surrounding medium. Here we report observations of the peculiar GRB 101225A (the 'Christmas burst'). Its gamma-ray emission was exceptionally long and followed by a bright X-ray transient with a hot thermal component and an unusual optical couuterpart. During the first 10 days, the optical emission evolved as an expanding, cooling blackbody after which an additional component, consistent with a faint supernova, emerged. We determine its distance to 1.6 Gpc by fitting the spectral-energy distribution and light curve of the optical emission with a GRB-supernova template. Deep optical observations may have revealed a faint, unresolved host galaxy. Our proposed progenitor is a helium star-neutron star merger that underwent a common envelope phase expelling its hydrogen envelope. The resulting explosion created a GRB-like jet which gets thermalized by interacting with the dense, previously ejected material and thus creating the observed black-body, until finally the emission from the supernova dominated. An alternative explanation is a minor body falling onto a neutron star io the Galaxy
Keywords B stars
Gamma ray astronomy
Gamma ray bursts
Massive stars
Neutron stars
Spectral energy distribution
Stellar envelopes
Stellar evolution
Swift observatory
X ray sources

Source Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NTIS Subject Category 54B - Astronomy & Celestial Mechanics
Corporate Author Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.
Document Type Journal article
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1301
Contract Number N/A

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