Abstract by Jacob Fields
Physics and Astronomy
Gamma-ray Bursts in Inhomogeneous Interstellar Media
Long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are among the most energetic phenomena in the universe. Unfortunately, much remains unknown about the physical mechanisms responsible for their production; part of this is due to the heavy variation present in observed light curves. While it is generally accepted that much of this variation is due to the mechanics of the central engine of the GRB, there may also be other contributions. In particular, we explore the possibility that an inhomogenous interstellar medium, such as might be expected near a dying star, may be interacting with the blast wave and generating some of the observed variation. Using a relativistic fluid, we are investigating collisions between a Blandford-McKee blast wave and a shell of matter. We present our methodology and preliminary results.