Swift XRT observations of the breaking X-ray afterglow of GRB 050318

We report the results of Swift X-Ray Telescope (XRT) observations of GRB 050318. This event triggered the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) aboard Swift and was followed-up with XRT and UVOT for 11 consecutive orbits starting from 54 min after the trigger. A previously unknown fading X-ray source was detected and accurately monitored. The source was found to decrease in intensity with time and a clear temporal break occurring at ~18 000 s after the trigger was observed. The X-ray light curve was found to be consistent with a broken power-law with decay indices −1.17 ± 0.08 and −2.10+0.22−0.24 before and after the break. The spectrum of the X-ray afterglow was well described by a photoelectrically absorbed power-law with energy index of −1.09 ± 0.09. No evidence of spectral evolution was found. We compare these results with those obtained with UVOT and separately reported and refine the data analysis of BAT. We discuss our results in the framework of a collimated fireball model and a synchrotron radiation emission mechanism. Assuming the GRB redshift derived from the farthest optical absorption complex (z = 1.44), the event is fully consistent with the Ep–Eiso correlation.

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