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4: The Events in Context

4

THE EVENTS IN CONTEXT

L’accent du pays où l’on est né demeure dans l’esprit et dans le coeur, comme dans le langage.
[The accent of one’s birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as much as in one’s speech.]

—François duc de La Rochefoucauld,

Maxim 342, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales

(Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims), 1664

Prompt and afterglow emission of GRBs are largely driven by the central engine behavior, the explosion properties, and the physics of relativistic shocks. Those seconds, minutes, and days after the main event tell a remarkable story about how the progenitors of GRBs end their life. But it is the context—where GRBs occur inside and out of galaxies and throughout cosmic time—that tell us how the progenitors lived. Indeed, we treat GRB locations like a crime scene, extracting forensic evidence to make a case about the lifecycle of a GRB progenitor; that progenitor, while on the other side of the Universe, would one day get a bunch of astronomers on Earth scurrying around to make sense of it all.


  

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