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The Distance Scale to Gamma-Ray Bursts

D. Q. Lamb
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Vol. 107, No. 718 (1995 December), pp. 1152-1166
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40680663
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Distance Scale to Gamma-Ray Bursts
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Abstract

We do not yet know the distance scale to gamma-ray bursts. Here I discuss several observational results and theoretical calculations which provide evidence about the distance scale. First, I describe the recent discovery that many neutron stars have high enough velocities to escape from the Milky Way. These high-velocity neutron stars form a distant, previously unknown Galactic "corona." This distant corona is isotropie when viewed from Earth, and consequently, the population of neutron stars in it can easily explain the angular and brightness distributions of the BATSE bursts. If this were all of the evidence that we considered, we could not distinguish the cosmological and Galactic hypotheses. I contend that we can go further, by considering other important evidence. I draw attention to the many similarities between soft gamma-ray repeaters, which are known to be high-velocity neutron stars, and gamma-ray bursts. I point out that the source of the famous 1979 March 5 event, which is a high-velocity neutron star 50 kpc away from us, demonstrates that high-velocity neutron stars are capable of producing bursts which have the energy, the duration, and the spectrum of gamma-ray bursts. Finally, I comment that high-velocity neutron stars in a distant Galactic corona can account for cyclotron lines and repeating, and naturally explain the absence of bright optical counterparts in gamma-ray-burst error boxes, whereas all of these present major difficulties for cosmological models. I conclude that when we consider all of the evidence, it adds up to a strong case for the Galactic hypothesis.

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