Central Engine-Powered Bright X-ray Flares in Short Gamma-Ray Bursts: A Hint of Black Hole-Neutron Star Merger?

Authors: Hui-Jun Mu, Wei-Min Gu, Jirong Mao, Shu-Jin Hou, Da-Bin Lin, Tong Liu

Abstract: Short gamma-ray bursts may originate from the merger of double neutron stars (NS) or that of a black hole (BH) and an NS. We propose that the bright X-ray flare related to the central engine reactivity may hint a BH-NS merger, since such a merger can provide more fall-back materials and therefore a more massive accretion disk than the NS-NS merger. Based on the observed 49 short bursts with Swift/X-ray Telescope follow-up observations, we find that three bursts have bright X-ray flares, among which three flares from two bursts are probably related to the central engine reactivity. We argue that these two bursts may originate from the BH-NS merger rather than the NS-NS merger. Our suggested link between the central engine-powered bright X-ray flare and the BH-NS merger event can be checked by the future gravitational wave detections from advanced LIGO and Virgo.