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Soft X-ray emission lines in the afterglow spectrum of GRB 011211: A detailed XMM-Newton analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-10-24, 09:21 authored by J. N. Reeves, D. Watson, J. P. Osborne, K. A. Pounds, P. T. O'Brien
We report on an XMM-Newton observation of the X-ray afterglow of the Gamma Ray Burst GRB 011211, originally detected by Beppo-SAX on 11th December 2001. The early afterglow spectrum obtained by XMM-Newton, observed 11 hours after the initial burst, appeared to reveal decaying H-like K $\alpha$ emission lines of Mg, Si, S, Ar and Ca, arising in enriched material with an outflow velocity of order 0.1c (Reeves et al. 2002). This was attributed to matter ejected from a massive stellar progenitor occurring shortly before the burst itself. Here, we present a detailed re-analysis of the XMM-Newton EPIC observations of GRB 011211. In particular, we show that the detection of the soft X-ray line emission appears robust, regardless of detector background, calibration, spectral binning, or the spectral model that is assumed. We demonstrate that thermal emission, from an optically thin plasma, is the most plausible model that can account for the soft X-ray emission, which appears to be the case for at least two burst afterglow spectra observed by XMM-Newton. The X-ray spectrum of GRB 011211 appears to evolve with time after the first 10 ks of the XMM-Newton observation as the Si and S emission lines are only detected during the first 10 ks of observation. The observations suggest that thermal emission is present during the early afterglow spectrum, whilst a power-law component dominates the latter stages. Finally we estimate the mass of the ejected material in GRB 011211 to be of the order 4-20 solar masses.



Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2003, 403 (2), pp. 463-472


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