Selection biases in the gamma-ray burst Eiso - Lopt, X correlation

David Coward, Eric Howell, L. Wan, Damien Macpherson

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© 2015 The Authors. Gamma-ray burst (GRB) optical and X-ray afterglow luminosity is expected to correlate with the GRB isotropic equivalent kinetic energy of the outflow in the standard synchrotron model for GRB afterglows. Previous studies, using prompt GRB isotropic equivalent energy (Eiso) as a proxy for isotropic equivalent kinetic energy, have generally confirmed a correlation between X-ray and optical afterglow luminosities. Assuming that GRB afterglow luminosity does not evolve strongly with redshift, we identify a strong Malmquist bias in GRB optical and X-ray afterglow luminosity data. We show that selection effects dominate the observed Eiso-Lopt, X correlations, and have likely been underestimated in other studies. The bias is strongest for a subset of optically faint bursts m > 24 at 24 h with z > 2. After removing this optical selection bias, the Eiso-Lopt, X correlation for long GRBs is not statistically significant, but combining both long and short GRB luminosity data the correlation is significant. Using the median of the Eiso and Lopt, X distributions, we apply the synchrotron model assuming the same power-law index for short and long GRBs, but different microphysical parameter distributions. Comparing the ratio of optical and X-ray luminosities, we find tentative evidence that the fraction of post-shock energy in magnetic fields, εB, could be systematically higher in short GRBs compared to long GRBs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L6-L10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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