The existence of a shallow decay phase in the early X-ray afterglows of gamma-ray bursts is a common feature. Here we investigate the possibility that this is connected to the formation of a highly magnetized millisecond pulsar, pumping energy into the fireball on timescales longer than the prompt emission. In this scenario, the nascent neutron star could undergo a secular bar-mode instability, leading to gravitational wave losses which would affect the neutron star spin-down. In this case, nearby gamma-ray bursts with isotropic energies of the order of 1050 ergs would produce a detectable gravitational wave signal emitted in association with an observed X-ray light-curve plateau, over relatively long timescales of minutes to about an hour. The peak amplitude of the gravitational wave signal would be delayed with respect to the gamma-ray burst trigger, offering gravitational wave interferometers such as the advanced LIGO and Virgo the challenging possibility of catching its signature on the fly.
- Gamma rays: bursts
- Gravitational waves
- Radiation mechanisms: non-thermal