On ALP scenarios and GRB 221009A

Pierluca Carenza and M. C. David Marsh

Submitted on 3 November 2022, last revised on 16 November 2022


The extraordinarily bright gamma-ray burst GRB 221009A was observed by a large number of observatories, from radio frequencies to gamma-rays. Of particular interest are the reported observations of photon-like air showers of very high energy: an 18 TeV event in LHAASO and a 251 TeV event at Carpet-2. Gamma rays at these energies are expected to be absorbed by pair-production events on background photons when travelling intergalactic distances. Several works have sought to explain the observations of these events, assuming they originate from GRB 221009A, by invoking axion-like particles (ALPs). We reconsider this scenario and account for astrophysical uncertainties due to poorly known magnetic fields and background photon densities. We find that, robustly, the ALP scenario cannot simultaneously account for an 18 TeV and a 251 TeV photon from GRB 221009A.


Comment: 16 pages, 6 figures. v2: major changes to fig. 5, conclusions changed accordingly

Subjects: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena; High Energy Physics - Phenomenology


Momentum transfer $\eta$ as function of the ALP energy for various ALP masses. As the energy increases, the CMB refraction becomes more important than the ALP mass term and $\eta$ increases linearly with the energy.