Brightening X-ray Emission from GW170817/GRB170817A: Further Evidence for an Outflow [HEAP]

The origin of the X-ray emission from neutron star coalescence GW170817/GRB170817A is a key diagnostic of the unsettled post-merger narrative, and different scenarios predict distinct evolution in its X-ray light curve. Unfortunately, sensitive X-ray monitoring of GW170817/GRB170817A has not been possible after a previous detection at 16 days post-burst due to its sky proximity to the Sun. We present new, deep Chandra observations of GW170817/GRB170817A at 109 days post-burst, immediately after Sun constraints were lifted. The X-ray emission has brightened to a flux of F{0.3-8 keV} = 15.8 x 10^-15 erg/s/cm^-2, at a similar rate as the radio light curve. This confirms that the X-ray and radio emission share a common origin. We show that the X-ray light curve is highly consistent with outflow models based on radio observations. The outflow in these models may be either a cocoon shocked by the jet or dynamical ejecta from the merger. Further deep X-ray monitoring can place powerful constraints on the physical parameters of these models, by both timing the passing of a synchrotron cooling break through the X-ray band, and detecting the associated change in the X-ray photon index.

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J. Ruan, M. Nynka, D. Haggard, et. al.
Mon, 11 Dec 17

Comments: submitted to ApJL