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Very-High-Energy Gamma-Ray Emission from Gamma-Ray Bursts

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most violent explosions in the Universe, outshining everything else in the gamma-ray sky for a few seconds to minutes. They are theorized to originate in either the supernova-like explosion of a very massive star (long GRBs, lasting more than 2 s, up to several minutes) or the merger of two neutron stars (short GRBs, less than ~ 2 seconds). The detection of gravitational waves from a neutron-star merger in concert with a short GRB was one of the major breakthroughs in astrophysics in 2017. GRBs have long been speculated to emit gamma-rays all the way up to very high energies, observable by ground-based gamma-ray observatories (such as H.E.S.S. in Namibia). This has now also been spectacularly demonstrated by the detection of a GRB by the MAGIC telescopes on La Palma in January 2019. Motivated by these breakthrough discoveries, this project will re-visit theoretical models for the gamma-ray emission in GRBs, especially models in which relativistic protons are responsible for the high-energy radiation (hadronic models). Basic knowledge of high-energy astrophysics would be advantageous, but is not mandatory. Basic programming skills are required.
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