Quiescent times in Gamma-ray bursts: I. An observed correlation between the durations of subsequent emission episodes

E. Ramirez-Ruiz (IoA, Cambridge), A. Merloni (IoA, Cambridge)


Although more than 2000 astronomical Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) have been detected, the precise progenitor responsible for these events is unknown. The temporal phenomenology observed in GRBs can significantly constrain the different models. Here we analyse the time histories of a sample of bright, long GRBs, searching for the ones exhibiting relatively long (more than 5 per cent of the total burst duration) quiescent times, defined as the intervals between adjacent episodes of emission during which the $\gamma$-rays count rate drops to the background level. We find a quantitative relation between the duration of an emission episode and the quiescent time elapsed since the previous episode. We suggest here that the mechanism responsible for the extraction and the dissipation of energy has to take place in a  meta-stable configuration, such that the longer the accumulation period, the higher is the stored energy  available for the next emission episode.