Polarization of Gamma-Ray Bursts in the Dissipative Photosphere Model
The MeV spectral peak of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is best explained as photospheric emission from a dissipative relativistic jet. The observed non-blackbody spectrum shows that sub-photospheric dissipation involves both thermal plasma heating and injection of nonthermal particles, which quickly cool through inverse Compton scattering and emission of synchrotron radiation. Synchrotron photons emitted around and above the photosphere are predicted to dominate the low-energy part of the GRB
... of the GRB spectrum, starting from roughly a decade in energy below the MeV peak. We show that this leads to a unique polarization signature: a rise in GRB polarization toward lower energies. We compute the polarization degree of GRB radiation as a function of photon energy for a generic jet model, and show the predictions for GRBs 990123, 090902B, and 110721A. The expected polarization is significant in the X-ray band, in particular for bursts similar to GRB 090902B. The model predicts that radiation in the MeV peak (and at higher energies) is unpolarized as long as the jet is approximately uniform on angular scales δθΓ −1 where Γ is the bulk Lorentz factor of the jet.