The bright optical_flash_and_afterglow_from_the_gamma_ray_burst_grb_130427a
than the typical GRB localized by
Swift. However, even accounting for its
proximity, the intense gamma-ray fluxes observed imply an apparent isotropic
energy release of nearly 1054 ergs and
rank it among the more powerful GRBs
ever detected (3). Subsequent optical
monitoring discovered the emergence
of a broad-line supernova at the GRB
W. T. Vestrand, * J. A. Wren, A. Panaitescu, P. R. Wozniak, H. Davis, D. M.
Palmer, G. Vianello, N. Omodei, S. Xiong, M. S. Briggs, M. Elphick, W.
This powerful GRB also generated
Paciesas,5 W. Rosing4
an extremely bright flash of optical
emission and a long-lived, bright, optiLos Alamos National Laboratory, P.O. Box 1663, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA. 2W.W. Hansen
cal afterglow. Three independent
Experimental Physics Laboratory, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Department of
Physics, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
RAPTOR (RAPid Telescopes for Opti3
Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research, University of Alabama in Huntsville, 320 Sparkman
cal Response) full sky monitoring teleDr., Huntsville, AL 35899, USA. 4Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc., 6740 Cortona
scopes (9), at locations in New Mexico
Drive, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, USA. Universities Space Research Association, 320
and Hawaii, detected the emergence of
Sparkman Dr., Huntsville, AL 35899, USA.
a bright flash, temporally coincident
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
with the onset of gamma-ray emission,
at the location of GRB 130427A. The
The optical light generated simultaneously with x-rays and gamma-rays during a
optical flash rapidly peaked at a magnitude 7.03 ± 0.03 (unfiltered observagamma-ray burst (GRB) provides clues about the nature of the explosions that
occur as massive stars collapse. We report on the bright optical flash and fading
tions calibrated to Sloan r’ band) in an
exposure that covered the time interval
afterglow from powerful burst GRB 130427A. The optical and >100 MeV gamma-ray
flux show a close correlation during the first 7000 s, best explained by reverse
To + 9.31 to To + 19.31 s. After the
shock emission co-generated in the relativistic burst ejecta as it collides with
peak, the flash faded with a power-law
surrounding material. At later times, optical observations show the emergence of
flux decay with index α = –1.67 ± 0.07
emission generated by a forward shock traversing the circumburst environment.
(χ2 = 0.68/5 dof) and was detected for
The link between optical afterglow and >100 MeV emission suggests that nearby
about 80 s until it faded below the
early peaked afterglows will be the best candidates for studying particle
~10th magnitude sensitivity limit of the
acceleration at GeV/TeV energies.
RAPTOR full sky monitors.
The taxonomy for optical emission
detected during the prompt gamma-ray
Long-duration gamma-ray bursts are associated with the collapse of emitting interval identifies two broad classes: prompt optical emission
massive stars to form black holes (1) or rapidly-spinning, highly- correlated with prompt gamma-ray emission (10–12) and early optical
magnetized, neutron stars (2). This collapse is believed to eject collimat- afterglow emission uncorrelated with the prompt gamma-ray emission
ed relativistic jets that, through internal dissipation processes and colli- (11, 13, 14). In context of the standard fireball model (15, 16), the
sions with the surroundings, generate luminous outbursts of prompt optical emission is attributed to internal shocks in an ultraelectromagnetic radiation that have been detected at radio frequencies to relativistic jet outflow generated by the central engine and the afterglow
very high (GeV) gamma-ray energies. Most of the outburst energy is emission to external shocks generated by interaction with the surroundemitted in the gamma-rays. But, starting with the first observations that ing medium. The prompt optical emission therefore reflects the impulestablished that GRBs occur at cosmological distances (3), correlative sive energy injection into the jet and the early afterglow emission
optical observations, in particular, have proven themselves as important measures the response of the jet/environment system to the energy injectools for unraveling the nature of GRB explosions. Here we present ob- tion. Bright optical flashes from reverse shocks were predicted on theoservations of the optical flash and early afterglow for a nearby burst that retical grounds (16, 17) before observational evidence was seen in GRB
is bright enough in very high energy gamma-rays to allow a detailed 990123 (13). The optical flash light-curve for GRB 130427A shows a
comparison of the >100 MeV gamma-ray and optical light curves. These single peak delayed with respect to the keV-MeV prompt gamma-ray
optical observations cover the critical early phases of the explosion from peak (Fig. 1) and a steep power-law flux that is consistent with the prethe time interval before the event onset, through the bright optical and dictions of models for optical flashes from reverse shocks (17). Based on
prompt gamma-ray emitting period, and well into the early afterglow the above taxonomy, the brightness of the flash, and the rapid power law
flux decay, it makes sense to associate the optical flash with reverse
Starting at 27 April 2013 at 07:47:06.42 UTC (hereafter To), the shock emission.
Gamma Ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on the Fermi Satellite, the Burst
To explore the evolution of the broad band GRB spectrum during the
Alert Telescope (BAT) on the Swift Satellite, and an armada of other optical flash, we constructed spectral energy distributions (SED) using
space-based gamma-ray detectors detected the onset of a powerful gam- simultaneous measurements taken with the Fermi GBM and the Fermi
ma-ray burst (GRB) (4, 5). This GRB, called GRB 130427A, had the Large Area Telescope (LAT). Each snapshot of the time evolving SED
largest gamma-ray fluence (~2.7 × 10–3 erg/cm2 in the 20 keV-1200 keV was formed by integrating the GRB flux over the same time interval as
band) measured in more than 18 years of operation by Konus-Wind (6) the optical exposure. We found that the broad-band SEDs (Fig. 2) varied
and set a record for duration of the >100 MeV gamma-ray emitting in- rapidly during the first 40 s and the optical measurements fell far from
terval (5). Spectroscopy of the optical counterpart (7), coarsely localized the values expected from extrapolation of the keV-MeV SED. However
by the Swift BAT and later refined by follow-up with optical telescopes, as the intensity of the outburst declined during the next 40 s interval, the
places the GRB at a redshift z = 0.34—a distance about five times closer SED shape stabilized and the optical measurements started to converge
/ http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 21 November 2013 / Page 1 / 10.1126/science.1242316
Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on December 1, 2013
The Bright Optical Flash and Afterglow
from the Gamma-Ray Burst GRB
on the values predicted by a straightforward linear extrapolation of the
keV-MeV SED. By the end of the optical flash, the optical to 10 MeV
spectrum is consistent with a single power law with index β = –0.64.
In response to the Swift BAT localization alert at 127.8 s after the
GBM trigger, our RAPTOR response telescopes began unfiltered and
simultaneous multicolor (g’, r’, i’, z’) optical observations at To + 132.9
s that continued until To + 7585.9 s. This photometry begins near the
peak of a prominent flare in keV-MeV x-ray/gamma-rays that lasts until
~To +400 s. The optical light curves show a smooth monotonic decline
but no indication of the steep decline nor the break to a slower powerlaw decay at ~400 s measured at x-ray energies (4). Instead, the structure
of the optical light-curve shows a steepening at about To + 270 s. This
steepening is essentially achromatic and the color of the optical emission
is consistent with a ν–0.70 ± 0.05 spectrum and constant until it starts to
become bluer (ν–0.59 ± 0.05) at ~3000 s after the GBM trigger (see bottom
panel of Fig. 3).
In marked contrast with the keV-MeV emission, the optical light
curves after To + 100 s show a striking similarity with the >100 MeV
photon flux light curve measured by the Fermi LAT (5). The LAT light
curve has a break at about 300 s, just like the optical afterglow. Straightforward scaling of the RAPTOR optical light curve by a factor of ~10−6
provides a reasonable description of the LAT observations out to ~To +
7000 s. This close correspondence argues for a common origin of both
components in external shocks.
The optical light curve until ~To + 3000 s is best modeled by synchrotron emission from a reverse shock in a wind density profile. Most
optical afterglows have been modeled with forward shocks in a homogeneous medium. But the peak brightness (~6 Jy) and steep decay of the
optical flash suggest origin in a reverse shock. The relative faintness of
the radio afterglow peak (~1 mJy) also argues for generation by a reverse
shock in a wind-like medium (18). To explain the optical flash by reverse shock emission in a wind (R–2) requires either a long-lived electron
energy injection up to ~40 s or a shorter (~20 s) followed by adiabatic
cooling. Figure 4 shows the best fit to the optical flash with the short
interval of injection (on at To + 4 s and off at To + 20 s) and, for selfconsistency, the same dynamical parameters that we infer from fits to the
later afterglow forward shock emission discussed below. This model
employs an electron distribution with power-law energy index p = 1.88
and corresponds to an injected energy of 8.0 × 1053 ergs. The slower
optical fading after the flash interval requires a second episode of energy
injection to sustain the optical afterglow or a continuous outflow with a
variable Lorentz factor (19). This sustained reverse shock model reproduces the closely tracking variability observed by the RAPTOR telescopes and the Fermi LAT and suggests that the optical and most of the
>100 MeV emission is generated by synchrotron emitting electrons that
are accelerated by the reverse shocks.
This reverse shock model cannot, by itself, explain the properties of
the prompt keV-MeV emission nor some of the properties of the late
time afterglows. The evolution to a bluer color after ~3000 s observed by
RAPTOR and the slowing of the optical brightness decay suggests the
emergence of a forward shock component. This transition to forward
shock dominance at late times would also naturally explain the late time
x-ray light-curve and the sustained >100 MeV emission after 10,000 s.
Emergence of a bluer optical component at late time is similar to the
afterglow evolution of GRB 080319B—another burst with a bright optical flash. For GRB 080319B, the color change was also interpreted as
marking the transition from reverse shock emission dominance to forward shock dominance (12, 20, 21).
During most of the interval before To + 400 s, the keV-MeV xray/gamma-ray emission is consistent with the standard assumption that
the prompt emission is generated by internal shocks in the relativistic jet
ejecta. Our predicted >100 MeV flux from the reverse shock that generates the optical flash is slightly less (~ factor of 2) than the peak meas-
ured by the Fermi LAT (Fig. 4). But the keV-MeV flux is significantly
underpredicted by at least a factor of 10. So the reverse shock in a wind
model requires prompt emission to explain the keV-MeV emission and
might require additional >100 MeV emission to explain the LAT lightcurve peak. In this picture, the keV-MeV light-curve is a proxy that traces the injection of internal jet energy by the central engine. The keVMeV emission therefore indicates two periods of significant energy injection into the jet: the initial 20 s and a period from ~120 to 300 s. The
interesting potential exception to prompt emission dominance in the
keV-MeV range is the period just before onset of the flare at To + 120 s.
During the interval To + 79 s to To + 89 s, the optical afterglow flux
measured by RAPTOR falls right on the extrapolation of the power-law
(index = ~–0.6) measured in the 10 keV-20 MeV energy band by the
GBM. This gamma-ray spectral slope is also similar to spectral slope
that we measure for optical afterglow emission at later times. The
“notch” in the keV-MeV light curve before the flare at To + 120 may be
providing a rare glimpse, similar to that seen in GRB 980923 (22), of
afterglow emission at MeV energies between prompt emission intervals.
The exceptional optical properties observed for the optical flash and
afterglow from GRB 130427A are mostly a result of burst proximity.
The flash peak luminosity for GRB 130427A is among the most powerful events, but its value is consistent with the anti-correlation between
peak time and peak luminosity (Fig. 5) found for optical afterglows (23).
If optical afterglows and >100 MeV gamma-ray afterglows have a common origin, then the peaked optical afterglows that peak early should be
the best candidates for detection at GeV/TeV gamma-ray energies.
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Acknowledgments: This gamma-ray burst research was supported by NASA and
the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program at Los Alamos
National Laboratory. The optical measurements reported in this paper are
available online in the supplementary materials.
24 June 2013; accepted 21 October 2013
Published online 21 November 2013
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Fig. 1. A comparison of the relative flux variations measured for GRB 130427A by the Fermi LAT, RAPTOR, and the
Swift BAT during the first 90 s after the gamma-ray burst trigger. The >100 MeV emission and the 50-150 keV emission
have been integrated over the same time intervals as the optical exposures and multiplied by a scaling factor to allow
comparison with the optical light curve. Both the optical and >100 MeV light curves rise to a peak in the second interval, 50-150
keV emission peaks in the first interval.
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Fig. 2. The spectral energy distributions measured for GRB 130427A during the early phases of the burst
development. The points and solid lines represent actual measurements. The dotted straight lines indicate the extrapolation
the keV-MeV measurements for comparison to the optical measurements. The dashed lines indicate the connection between
energy bands and are not actual measurements. The measurements were obtained by RAPTOR, the Fermi GBM, and the
Fermi LAT. The errors bars on the GBM measurements have been increased by 25% to allow for systematics, such as pulse
pile-up (PPU), background subtraction during and following the repointing of Fermi, and the rapid spectral evolution during the
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Fig. 3. Simultaneous multi-color measurements of the
early optical afterglow from GRB 130427A. The top panel
shows the light-curves obtained using standard Sloan g’, r’,
i’, z’ filters (24). The light-curves show more structure than is
captured by power law fits. But the r’ band light-curve can be
characterized as a power-law decay with index ~0.7 before
270 s, ~1.1 between 270 and 3000 s, and 0.88 between
3000 and 7500 s. Also plotted for comparison, in blue, is the
photon flux light curve for >100 MeV emission measured by
the Fermi LAT (4). The bottom panel shows the g’-r’ color
evolution of GRB 130427A. The red line indicates the mean
g’-r’ value (0.286 ± 0.018) measured before T0 + 1000 s.
After about T0 + 3000 s a bluer component emerges as the
flux decay slows.
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Fig. 4. Best-fit with a reverse-forward shock model to the optical light-curve of GRB afterglow 130427A. Three
episodes of ejecta and energy injection are needed to explain the optical flash, the early optical emission (up to few ks), and
the late optical emission (after a few ks). Here each “injection episode” represents a change in the dynamical and microphysical parameters of the reverse shock in an otherwise continuous ejecta injection into the reverse-shock. For the first two
episodes, the optical emission arises from the reverse shock, and the kinetic energy of the incoming ejecta (6.10 erg/sr and
4.10 erg/sr, respectively) is less than that of the leading shock (10 erg/sr). During the last injection episode, the optical
afterglow emission arises from the forward-shock, with the incoming ejecta carrying 3.10 erg/sr, which is more than that
already existing in the forward-shock (thus its deceleration is mitigated by the energy injection). Other parameters are: 1) first
injection episode, flash reverse-shock (fRS)–onset at 4 s, end at 15 s, incoming ejecta Lorentz factor 730, magnetic field
parameter 0.008, electron energy parameter 0.006, index of electron power-law distribution with energy 1.9 2) second injection
episode, reverse-shock (RS, parameters in same order as above)–15 s, 3 ks, 1800, 0.0010, 0.012, 2.0. 3) third injection
episode, forward-shock (FS)–3 ks, > 2 Ms, > 100, 3.10 , 0.14, 2.3, energy injection law E ~ t . The micro-physical
parameters for the forward shock are kept constant throughout the entire course of the event. We also require that the ambient
medium have a wind-like density stratification (n ~ r ) corresponding to a GRB progenitor with a mass-loss rate–to–wind
speed ratio of 4.10 (M_sun/yr)/(km/s). Dot-dash lines show the model fits for the flash phase emission, the solid lines show
the reverse shock contributions during the early afterglow phase, and the dashed lines shows the contributions of the forward
shock emission to the late optical afterglow and all phases of the x-ray afterglow. The reverse-shock emission during the third
injection episode is not shown and would be dimmer than that of the forward-shock, if the reverse-shock has the same microphysical parameters as the forward-shock.
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Fig. 5. A comparison of the light-curve from GRB
130427A (in green) with those measured for other
prominent GRBs with peaked optical afterglows. All of
the light-curves have been transformed to show how they
would appear if they had occurred at redshift z = 2.
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