Gamma-Ray Bursts: An Enigma and a Tool (Gamma-Ray Bursts)

Project leader

Funding source

EU Fifth Framework Programme - Improving Human Potential

Project Details

Start date: 01/09/2002
End date: 31/08/2006
Funding: 1723430 EUR


A rich and exciting new field of research opened in 1997 with the discovery that Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs), whose origin had been a mystery for 30 years, originate in remote galaxies (z = 0.4-4.5) and are the most energetic explosions in the Universe. This breakthrough - primarily by a European satellite and scientists - showed that the production of GRBs can be explained by the deposition of a very large amount of energy (10^51-^53 ergs) in a small volume (r~10 km), leading to the formation of a "relativistic fireball", which expands with a Lorentz factor greater than 200. This basic model, while successful, also raises several questions of theoretical principle involving the nature of the energy release around spinning black holes, the properties of relativistic shock waves, and the emission of neutrinos, cosmic rays and gravitational radiation. With the advent of new satellites, however, this model will be tested over the next few years by qualitatively new observations, especially those associated with short bursts. In addition, GRBs are proving to be powerful probes of star formation and the interstellar medium in young galaxies and of the intergalactic medium, possibly stretching back to the dawn of galaxy formation. We propose to establish a three year Research and Training Network (RTN) to: (1) Make a profound study of the physics of the GRB phenomenon itself by theoretical and observational exploration of: "engines" (e.g., merging double neutron stars, collapsing rotating stars), relativistic jet formation, panicle acceleration and photon production, as well as the multiwavelength afterglow production; (2) To use the optical and infrared afterglows of GRBs as a tool for cosmology. The optical afterglows can be up to 10^6 times brighter than supemovae and the identified parent galaxies are observed to be actively star- forming. This makes GRBs a unique tool for studying the star and galaxy formation history of the Universe up to very high reddish

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Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:19