The emission mechanism in magnetically dominated gamma-ray burst outflows

Paz Beniamini, Tsvi Piran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider the conditions within a Poynting-flux-dominated gamma-ray burst (GRB) emission region. Because of the enormous magnetic energy density, relativistic electrons will cool in such a region extremely rapidly via synchrotron. As there is no known mechanism that can compete in these magnetic environments with synchrotron it must be the source of the prompt sub-MeV emission. This sets strong limits on the size and Lorentz factor of the outflow. Furthermore, synchrotron cooling is too efficient. It overproduces optical and X-ray as compared with the observations. This overproduction of low-energy emission can be avoided if the electrons are re-accelerated many times (≳5 × 104) during each pulse (or are continuously heated) or if they escape the emitting region before cooling down. We explore the limitations of both models practically ruling out the later and demonstrating that the former requires two different acceleration mechanisms as well as an extremely large magnetic energy to Baryonic energy ratio. To be viable, any GRB model based on an emission region that is Poynting flux dominated must demonstrate how these conditions are met. We conclude that if GRB jets are launched magnetically dominated they must dissipate somehow most of their magnetic energy before they reach the emission region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3892-3907
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 29 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


  • Gamma-rays: general
  • Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal


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