Next Contents Previous

B. Internal Shocks

1. Hydrodynamics of Internal Shocks

Internal shocks take place when a faster shell catches a slower one, namely at:

Equation 42 (42)

where Gamma100 is the typical Lorentz factor in units of 102 and tilde{delta}t is the time difference between the emission of the two shells. I show later that tilde{delta}t defined here is roughly equal to the observed fluctuations in the light curve of the burst deltat. Clearly Rint < Rext must hold otherwise internal shocks won't take place. Rext is defined as the location of efficient extraction of energy by external shocks (see Section VIC). If follows from the discussion in Section VIC that the condition Rint < Rext implies:

Equation 43 (43)

where l is defined by Eq. 58 and it is typically of the order of 1018cm, while Delta is the width of the shell and it is of order 1012cm. Both conditions set upper limits on Gamma (of the order of a few thousands) for internal shocks. If the initial Lorentz factor is too large then internal shocks will take place at large radii and external shocks will take place before the internal shocks could take place. It is possible that this fact plays an important role in limiting the relevant Lorentz factors and hence the range of variability of Ep, the peak energy observed in GRBs.

Internal shocks are characterized by a comparable Lorentz factor of order of a few (1 < Gamma < 10) reflecting the relative motion of the shells and by comparable densities n in both shells. In this case, for an adiabatic index (4/3), the Loretz factor of the shocked region hat{Gamma} satisfies:

Equation 44 (44)

The shocked density hat{n} and energy hat{e} are:

Equation 45 (45)

Both shocks are mildly relativistic and their strength depends on the relative Lorentz factors of the two shells.

2. The Efficiency of Internal Shocks

Consider collision between two shells with masses mr and ms that are moving at different relativistic velocities: Gammar gtapprox Gammas >> 1. The resulting bulk Lorentz factor, Gammam in an elastic collision is:

Equation 46 (46)

The internal energy, Eint, in the local frame and Eint, in the frame of an external observer, of the merged shell: Eint = Gammam Eint, is the difference of the kinetic energies before and after the collision:

Equation 47 (47)

The conversion efficiency of kinetic energy into internal energy is [193]:

Equation 48 (48)

As can be expected a conversion of a significant fraction of the initial kinetic energy to internal energy requires that the difference in velocities between the shells will be significant: Gammar >> Gammas and that the two masses will be comparable mr approx ms [67, 193].

Beloborodov [19] considered internal shocks between shells with a lognormal distribution of (Gamma - 1) / (Gamma0 - 1), where Gamma0 is the average Lorentz factor. The dimensionless parameter, A, measures the width of the distribution. He shows that the efficiency increases and reached unity when A is of order unity, that is typical fluctuation in Gamma are by a factor of 10 compared to the average. Similarly numerical simulations of Guetta et al. [154] show that a significant fraction of the wind kinetic energy, on the order of 20%, can be converted to radiation, provided the distribution of Lorentz factors within the wind has a large variance and the minimum Lorentz factor is greater than approx 102.5 L2/952, where L52 is the (isotropic) wind luminosity in units of 1052 ergs/sec.

Another problem that involves the efficiency of GRBs is that not all the internal energy generated is emitted. This depends further on epsilone, the fraction of energy given to the electron. If this fraction is small and if there is no strong coupling between the electrons and the protons the thermal energy of the shocked particles (which is stored in this case mostly in the protons) will not be radiated away. Instead it will be converted again to kinetic energy by adiabatic cooling. Kobayashi and Sari [195] consider a more elaborated model in which colliding shells that do not emit all their internal energy are reflected from each other, causing subsequent collisions and thereby allowing more energy to be emitted. In this case more energy is eventually emitted than what would have been emitted if we considered only the first collision. They obtain about 60% overall efficiency even if the fraction of energy that goes to electrons is small epsilone = 0.1. This is provided that the shells' Lorentz factor varies between 10 and 104.

3. Light Curves from Internal Shocks

Both the similarity between the pulse width and the pulse separation distribution and the correlation between intervals and the subsequent pulses [270, 327] arise naturally within the internal shocks model [268]. In this model both the pulse duration and the separation between the pulses are determined by the same parameter - the interval between the emitted shells. I outline here the main argument (see Nakar and Piran [268] for details). Consider two shells with a separation L. The Lorentz factor of the slower outer shell is GammaS = Gamma and of the Lorentz factor inner faster shell is GammaF = a Gamma (a > 2 for an efficient collision). Both are measured in the observer frame. The shells are ejected at t1 and t2 approx t1 + L / c. The collision takes place at a radius Rs approx 2Gamma2 L (Note that Rs does not depend on Gamma2). The emitted photons from the collision will reach the observer at time (omitting the photons flight time, and assuming transparent shells):

Equation 49 (49)

The photons from this pulse are observed almost simultaneously with a (hypothetical) photon that was emitted from the "inner engine" together with the second shell (at t2). This explains why various numerical simulations [67, 193, 293] find that for internal shocks the observed light curve replicates the temporal activity of the source.

In order to determine the time between the bursts we should consider multiple collisions. It turns out that there are just three types of collisions, (i), (ii) and (iii), that characterize the system and all combinations of multiple collisions can be divided to these three types. Consider four shells emitted at times ti (i = 1, 2, 3, 4) with a separation of the order of L between them. In type (i) there are two collisions - between the first and the second shells and between the third and the fourth shells. The first collision will be observed at t2 while the second one will be observed at t4. Therefore, Deltat approx t4 - t2 approx 2L / c. A different collision scenario (ii) occurs if the second and the first shells collide, and afterward the third shell takes over and collide with them (the forth shell does not play any roll in this case). The first collision will be observed at t2 while the second one will be observed at t3. Therefore, Deltat approx t3 - t2 approx L / c. Numerical simulations [268] show that more then 80% of the efficient collisions follows one of these two scenarios ((i) or (ii)). Therefore one can estimate:

Equation 50 (50)

Note that this result is independent of the shells' masses.

A third type of a multiple collision (iii) arises if the third shell collides first with the second shell. Then the merged shell will collide with the first one (again the fourth shell does not participate in this scenario). In this case the two pulses merge and will arrive almost simultaneously, at the same time with a (hypothetical) photon that would have been emitted from the inner engine simultaneously with the third (fastest) shell. t ~ t3. Only a 20% fraction exhibits this type of collision.

The pulse width is determined by the angular time (ignoring the cooling time): deltat = Rs / (2c Gammas2) where Gammas is the Lorentz factor of the shocked emitting region. If the shells have an equal mass (m1 = m2) then Gammas = sqrta Gamma while if they have equal energy (m1 = a m2) then Gammas approx Gamma. Therefore:

Equation 51 (51)

The ratio of the Lorentz factors a, determines the collision's efficiency. For efficient collision the variations in the shells Lorentz factor (and therefore a) must be large.

It follows from Eqs. 50 and 51 that for equal energy shells the Deltat - deltat similarity and correlation arises naturally from the reflection of the shells initial separation in both variables. However, for equal mass shells deltat is shorter by a factor of a than Deltat. This shortens the pulses relative to the intervals. Additionally, the large variance of a would wipe off the Deltat - deltat correlation. This suggests that equal energy shells are more likely to produce the observed light curves.

Next Contents Previous