Flares in gamma-ray bursts: Disc fragmentation and evolution

Simone Dall'Osso*, Rosalba Perna, Takamitsu L. Tanaka, Raffaella Margutti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Flaring activity following gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), observed in both long and short GRBs, signals a long-term activity of the central engine. However, its production mechanism has remained elusive. Here, we develop a quantitative model of the idea proposed by Perna et al. of a disc whose outer regions fragment due to the onset of gravitational instability. The self-gravitating clumps migrate through the disc and begin to evolve viscously when tidal and shearing torques break them apart. Our model consists of two ingredients: theoretical bolometric flare light curves whose shape (width, skewness) is largely insensitive to the model parameters, and a spectral correction to match the bandpass of the available observations, that is calibrated using the observed spectra of the flares. This simple model reproduces, with excellent agreement, the empirical statistical properties of the flares as measured by their width-to-arrival time ratio and skewness (ratio between decay and rise time).We present model fits to the observed light curves of two well-monitored flares, GRB 060418 and GRB 060904B. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative model able to reproduce the flare light curves and explain their global statistical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4399-4407
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • X-rays: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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