Letter | Published:

A flare-induced cascade model of γ-ray bursts

Nature volume 321, pages 4749 (01 May 1986) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Although there is no agreement concerning the model and mechanisms responsible for γ-ray bursts, it is generally agreed that they are produced by neutron stars1. With few exceptions2, it is thought that an intense magnetic field plays a key role. The favoured radiation mechanism is optically thin synchrotron radiation3, but it is difficult to find any way of maintaining the electron energy since the radiation cooling time is extremely short. As a resolution of this difficulty, I propose that the basic energy-release mechanism is a flare in the magnetosphere of a neutron star. This involves reconnection that leads to an electric field parallel to the magnetic field. This accelerates an electron along the magnetic field, producing high-energy γ rays (by curvature radiation) that promptly annihilate in the magnetic field, resulting in an electron-positron cascade as in radio pulsars4. This model offers an explanation of the continuum spectrum, of the 511-keV annihilation line, and possibly of the optical radiation that seems to accompany some γ-ray bursts.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Center for Space Science and Astrophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    • P. A. Sturrock

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https://doi.org/10.1038/321047a0

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