Magnetars in Ultra-Long Gamma-Ray Bursts [HEAP]

Supernova 2011kl, associated with the ultra-long gamma-ray burst (ULGRB) 111209A, exhibited a higher-than-normal peak luminosity, placing it in the parameter space between regular supernovae and super-luminous supernovae. Its light curve can only be matched by an abnormally high fraction of $^{56}$Ni that appears inconsistent with the observed spectrum, and as a result it has been suggested that the supernova, and by extension the gamma-ray burst, are powered by the spin-down of a highly magnetised millisecond pulsar, known as a magnetar. We investigate the broadband observations of ULGRB 111209A, and find two independent measures that suggest a high density circumburst environment. However, the light curve of the GRB afterglow shows no evidence of a jet break (the steep decline that would be expected as the jet slows due to the resistance of the external medium) out to three weeks after trigger, implying a wide, and therefore energetic, jet. Combined with the high isotropic energy of the burst, this implies that only a magnetar with a spin period of ~ 1 ms or faster can provide enough energy to power both ULGRB 111209A and Supernova 2011kl.

Read this paper on arXiv…

B. Gompertz and A. Fruchter
Tue, 21 Feb 17

Comments: 12 pages, 4 figures, submitted to ApJ and corrected for referee comments