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X-ray shout echoing through space from GRB 031203



Minimum credit line: Image courtesy of Simon Vaughan (University of Leicester) and ESA. (for details, see Conditions of Use).
Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

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About this Image

This image and animation shows GRB 032103, observed in the X-ray by XMM-Newton's MOS cameras. On December 3rd 2003 a 30-second flash of gamma rays was detected from GRB 032103 by Integral and consequently an XMM-Newton observation of the object was performed, starting 6 hours after the burst. The image (top figure) and animation (bottom figure) depict photons detected in the 0.7 - 2.5 keV energy range. The data were divided into time steps, and the image and animation show how the appearance of the object changes with time. The two rings seen are concentric with the X-ray afterglow, and appear to expand outwards. They are caused by dust slabs between the observer and the GRB. The dust reflects photons from the afterglow into the line of sight of the observer. They appear to expand outwards because light scattered at a larger angle to the line of sight take longer to reach the observer, hence giving the appearance of an expanding circle. In fact, the apparent rate of expansion is a thousand times the speed of light. The two rings are caused by separate dust slabs at distances of 880 and 1390 parsecs. Expanding X-ray rings from scattering by dust grains have never been seen before, although slower-moving rings around supernovae have been observed.

Investigator(s):  S. Vaughan, R. Willingale, P. T. O'Brien, J. P. Osborne, J. N. Reeves, A. J. Levan, M. G. Watson, J. A. Tedds, D. Watson, M. Santos-Lleo, P.M. Rodriguez-Pascual, N. Schartel

For More Information
  • Read the Press Release
  • Read the Journal article
  • Visit related website;
  • Detailed description of this image

  • Instrument EPIC MOS
    Observing Mode Full Frame
    Filter Medium
    Date of Observation 2003-12-04
    Image size 10.00 x 10.00 arcmin
    Detailed Caption GRB 031203 is shown as seen by XMM-Newton's EPIC-MOS cameras. Radio and optical observations have revealed a galaxy which could be the host, at redshift z = 0.105. The optical imaging and spectroscopy show star-formation which is characteristic of GRB hosts. GRB 032103 has been placed in a class of objects known as X-Ray Flashes, which means that the promptly emitted X-rays were very soft (low energy), and implies a steep temporal slope from the prompt phase to the afterglow phase. The X-ray afterglow fades as t-0.4, where t is time after the GRB, unusually slow for X-ray afterglows of GRBs. The ring radius increases as t0.5, as would be expected for a scattered halo. By fitting ten radial profiles obtained by dividing the data into ten sets of 5780 s, the angular and temporal distribution of dust grains was found, using the Rayliegh-Ganz approximation. The grain radius was found to be between 0.15 and 0.25 micrometers. The exposure time was 58 ks, taken on December 4th 2003. All cameras were operated in full frame mode and the medium filters were used with the MOS cameras. Only MOS data were used in this analysis because the halo lies over several chip gaps in the pn camera, but the halo was also visible with the pn camera. A further 54 ks observation was taken on December 6th as a follow-up. For more details on this see the related website above, which links to another journal article.

  • Query XSA archive for XMM-Newton data in the field of GRB 031203
  • Astronomical database entries for GRB 031203;
  • For unfamiliar terms, visit the XMM-Newton Astronomical Glossary

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