Soft X-ray absorption excess in gamma-ray burst afterglow spectra: Absorption by turbulent ISM

M. Tanga, P. Schady, A. Gatto, J. Greiner, M.~G.~H. Krause, R. Diehl, S. Savaglio, S. Walch

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Two-thirds of long duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) show soft X-ray absorption in excess of the Milky Way. The column densities of metals inferred from UV and optical spectra differ from those derived from soft X-ray spectra, at times by an order of magnitude, with the latter being higher. The origin of the soft X-ray absorption excess observed in GRB X-ray afterglow spectra remains a heavily debated issue, which has resulted in numerous investigations on the effect of hot material both internal and external to the GRB host galaxy on our X-ray afterglow observations. Nevertheless, all models proposed so far have either only been able to account for a subset of our observations (i.e. at z > 2), or they have required fairly extreme conditions to be present within the absorbing material. In this paper, we investigate the absorption of the GRB afterglow by a collisionally ionised and turbulent interstellar medium (ISM). We find that a dense (3 per cubic centimeters) collisionally ionised ISM could produce UV/optical and soft X-ray absorbing column densities that differ by a factor of 10, however the UV/optical and soft X-ray absorbing column densities for such sightlines and are 2-3 orders of magnitude lower in comparison to the GRB afterglow spectra. For those GRBs with a larger soft X-ray excess of up to an order of magnitude, the contribution in absorption from a turbulent ISM as considered here would ease the required conditions of additional absorbing components, such as the GRB circumburst medium and intergalactic medium.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA24
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date24 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena, Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies


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