The growth, polarization, and motion of the radio afterglow from the giant flare from SGR 1806-20

G. B. Taylor, J. D. Gelfand, B. M. Gaensler, J. Granot, C. Kouveliotou, R. P. Fender, E. Ramirez-Ruiz, D. Eichler, Y. E. Lyubarsky, M. Garrett, R. A.M.J. Wijers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extraordinary giant flare (GF) of 2004 December 27 from the soft gamma repeater SGR 1806-20 was followed by a bright radio afterglow. We present an analysis of VLA observations of this radio afterglow from SGR 1806-20, consisting of previously reported 8.5 GHz data covering days 7-20 after the GF, plus new observations at 8.5 and 22 GHz from day 24 to 81. We detect motion in the flux centroid of the afterglow, at an average velocity of (0.26 ± 0.03)c (assuming a distance of 15 kpc) at a position angle of -45°. This motion, in combination with the growth and polarization measurements, suggests an asymmetric outflow, mainly from one side of the magnetar. We find a deceleration in the expansion, from ∼9 to <5 mas day-1. The time of deceleration is roughly coincident with the rebrightening in the radio light curve, as expected to result when the ejecta from the GF sweeps up enough of the external medium and transitions from a coasting phase to the Sedov-Taylor regime. The radio afterglow is elongated and maintains a 2 : 1 axis ratio with an average position angle of -40° (north through east), oriented perpendicular to the average intrinsic linear polarization angle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L93-L96
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Pulsars: individual (SGR 1806-20)
  • Radio continuum: general
  • Stars: flare
  • Stars: neutron
  • Stars: winds, outflows


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