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Paper: Gamma-Ray Burst Central Engines: Black Hole Versus Magnetar
Volume: 432, New Horizons in Astronomy: Frank N. Bash Symposium 2009
Page: 81
Authors: Metzger, B. D.
Abstract: Discovered over forty years ago, Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) remain a forefront topic in modern astrophysics. Perhaps the most fundamental question associated with GRBs is the nature of the astrophysical agent (or agents) that ultimately powers them: the central engine. In this review, I focus on the possible central engines of long-duration GRBs, and the constraints that present observations place on these models. Long GRBs are definitively associated with the deaths of massive stars, but whether the central engine is an accreting black hole or a rapidly-spinning, highly-magnetized neutron star (a “proto-magnetar”) remains unsettled. This distinction has been brought into particular focus by recent MHD simulations of the core-collapse of massive, rotating “collapsar progenitors,” which suggest that powerful magneto-centrifugal outflows from the proto-neutron star may stave off black hole formation entirely. Although both black hole and magnetar GRB models remain viable, I argue that the magnetar model is more mature in the sense that it provides quantitative explanations for the durations, energies, Lorentz factors, and collimation of long GRB outflows. Given these virtues, one promising strategy to break the present stalemate is to further develop the magnetar model until inescapable (and falsifiable) predictions emerge. This course of action signals a renewed challenge to translate time-dependent jet properties (power, magnetization, and Lorentz factor) into observables (gamma-ray light curves and spectra).
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