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Properties of Gamma-Ray Burst Progenitor Stars

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Science  18 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5887, pp. 376-379
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159003

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Abstract

We determined some basic properties of stars that produce spectacular gamma-ray bursts at the end of their lives. We assumed that accretion of the outer portion of the stellar core by a central black hole fuels the prompt emission and that fall-back and accretion of the stellar envelope later produce the plateau in the x-ray light curve seen in some bursts. Using x-ray data for three bursts, we estimated the radius of the stellar core to be ∼(1 – 3) × 1010 cm and that of the stellar envelope to be ∼(1 – 2) × 1011 cm. The density profile in the envelope is fairly shallow, with ρ ∼ r–2 (where ρ is density and r is distance from the center of the explosion). The rotation speeds of the core and envelope are ∼0.05 and ∼0.2 of the local Keplerian speed, respectively.

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